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The body 'within which I cast a shadow. 

PUR. in. 26. 


Eetng an ssap 





So may God let thee, Reader, gather fruit 

From this thy reading. 

INF. xx. 19, a 






















MASK (drawn by H. T. DUNN) .... Frontispiece 

THE UNIVERSE to face page 9 

THE HELL " "43 




Dunque che e ? perche, perche ristai ? 

What is 't then ? wherefore, wherefore hold'st thou back ? 

Inf. ii. 121. 

DANTE is a name unlimited in place and period. Not 
Italy, but the Universe, is his birthplace ; not the 
fourteenth century, but all Time, is his epoch. He rises 
before us and above us like the Pyramids awful, massive, 
solitary ; the embodiment of the character, the realization of 
the science, of his clime and day; yet the outcome of a 
far wider past, the standard of a far wider future. Like the 
Pyramids, again, he is known to all by name and by pic- 
torial representation ; must we not add, like them unknown 
to most by actual sight and presence ? Who among us has 
indeed experienced the soul-subduing hush of his solemnity ? 
who beheld all average heights dwarfed by his sublimity ? 

Even of his fellow-linguists how many have read his great 
poem through ? One of themselves has said it few have 
gone beyond the Inferno ; nay, most have stopped short at 
two passages of the Inferno Francesca da Rimini and il 
Conte Ugolino. And of his fellow-cosmopolitans how many 

General ignorance of Dante: 

have read even so much ? If in cultivated society we start 
him as a topic of conversation, how far is our interlocutor 
likely to sympathize with our vivid interest? How many 
young people could we name as having read Dante as a 
part of their education ? 

Yet the Divina Commedia has been translated, especially 
of late years, again and again : copiously treated of by 
authors of European reputation. The few pore over such 
works ; but what of the many? They have probably glanced 
through Gustave Dore's illustrations ; but as to the poem 
itself, even those who have learned Italian look upon Dante 
in his native tongue as too far above their attainments ; 
those who have not never think of making such acquaint- 
ance with him as is possible in their own language ; while 
the glosses of commentators are usually bound up with the 
text, and are at any rate too closely connected with it to be 
available as independent outlines, even did they not often 
take for granted in the reader a certain amount of prelimi- 
nary knowledge and interest. And so it comes to pass that 
in England comparatively few among cultivated and intel- 
lectual people have a thorough and enjoying knowledge of 
one of the greatest works of man. 

As to those who are sufficiently Italian scholars to read 
Tasso with ease and pleasure, they are simply under a mis- 
apprehension in supposing themselves incompetent to pass 
on to Dante. They would understand him very well with 
notes ; and even highly-educated Italians would not always 
understand him without. The case is much like that of 
Shakspeare Englishmen are disputing to this day as to the 
meaning of many of his utterances, and so are Italians as 
to the meaning of Dante. For his difficulties, confessedly 

his peculiarities and difficulties. 3 

great, are of a kind to meet the reader scarcely less in a 
good translation than in the original. At their very head we 
must place one of his chief perfections : conciseness such 
that a word often requires expansion into a clause, a clause 
into a sentence, which may yet fail of being understood till 
amplified into an expository paragraph. Nay, his style is 
more than concise : it is elliptical it is recondite. A first 
thought often lies coiled up and hidden under a second; 
the words which state the conclusion involve the premises 
and develop the subject. The abstract disquisitions with 
which the poem abounds afford the principal, though by 
no means the sole, field for the exercise of this marvellous 
gift of recondite expression. A reader could such be 
found equal in knowledge to the poet himself, might still 
fail to recognize at a glance each inhabitant of his populous 
universe, and to solve at a thought each allusive quasi- 
enigma embodying the fictions of mythology, and the truths 
of science according to the highest attainments of the 
period. Astronomy becomes especially perplexing in his 
hands ; the dates of the poem, both as to hour and season, 
being hinted in descriptions of the position of the heavenly 
bodies, pretty sure to darken the reader's perceptions but 
for the friendly aid of the commentator, whose elaborate 
notes usually culminate in the one necessary and often 
only intelligible fact : ' It was the vernal equinox ; ' ' It was 
noon, sunset/ etc. 

Another of Dante's characteristics is ambiguity an am- 
biguity, however, not hazy, but prismatic, and therefore 
not really perplexing. Why refuse to discern a double 
truth under a single word-presentment in such a passage 
as the following? 

Subjects treated of by Dante. 

1 1 will be thy guide, 

And bring thee hence by an eternal place; 
Where thou shalt hearken the despairing shrieks, 
Shalt see the ancient Spirits dolorous, 
That each one outcries for the second death.' 

Inf. I. 113-117. 

The last line may signify either ' Each cries out on account 
of the second death which he is suffering,' or ' Each cries out 
for death to come a second time and ease him of his suffer- 
ings.' Both significations being true, why should we narrow 
our inheritance by rejecting one ? 

Such, then, is frequently the style in which Dante deals 
with a range of subject wellnigh encyclopaedic. He seems 
to have familiarly known everything that could be learned, 
and to have watched with closest attention the men and 
the politics of his day. Are we of those who, deeply and 
intelligently interested in the past, love in every period to 
dive below the surface, and welcome as peculiarly precious 
every ray of contemporary light thrown on persons and 
events ? Dante is a focus of such rays : bask we in them, 
and we shall know what at the end of the thirteenth and 
the beginning of the fourteenth century among the 
most intellectual people of the West were the highest 
attainments of the highest minds in physical science ; what 
natural and moral problems received an astrological solution ; 
what judgment was passed at the time, or soon afterwards, 
on such personages as Frederick II. of Germany, Philippe 
le Bel, Charles of Anjou; what was the character of the 
petty Italian States and princes of the period ; what man- 
ners and customs prevailed ; what corruptions revolted 
dignified and pious souls ; how nearly on the same level of 

Plan of this Work. 

reality mediasval habits of thought and study placed historic 
fact and classic fable ; what were the speculations of philo- 
sophers, what the contemplations of theologians, what the 
general tone of moral and religious thought in those who by 
reason of use had their senses exercised to discern both 
good and evil. 

But great as is the profit derived by the mind from the 
study of the Commedia, greater, far greater, is the profit 
accruing to the soul which, through the medium of that 
chain of visions wherein Dante's colossal intellect has 
embodied its conceptions, contemplates truths the most 
momentous, spiritual, and ennobling that can engage the 
thoughts of man. 

Any acquaintance with a work so sublime must needs 
be better than none. A shadow may win the gaze of some 
who never looked upon the substance, never tasted the 
entrancement of this Poet's music, never entered into the 
depths of this Philosopher's cogitations. My plan is very 
simple. After in some degree setting forth what Dante's 
Universe is as a whole, and what autobiography and history 
show his life-experience to have been, I proceed to expound 
in greater detail here and there unavoidably with slight 
repetition the physical and moral theories orf which his 
Three Worlds are constructed; and to narrate, now in 
his own words, now in a prose summary, the course of his 
stupendous pilgrimage. As in this narration my objects 
are mainly to carry on his autobiography, to study his 
character, to be spiritualized by his spirit and upborne on 
his wings also, though subordinately, to exemplify his 
treatment of the subjects above enumerated, the extracts 
are such as seem to me best suited to promote these ends ; 

6 Literality of translation. 

the episodes being usually passed over. I use two line-for- 
line blank verse translations, of the degrees of whose force and 
beauty the reader will be able to judge : my brother W. M. 
Rossetti's for the Inferno, Mr. Longfellow's for the Purgatorio 
and Paradise, retaining in each case any typographical pecu- 
liarity. Difficulties are explained in the text or in footnotes : 
these last, when taken verbatim from the Translators, are 
distinguished by inverted commas ; and where a passage of 
any length is paraphrased, the reference at the beginning 
is repeated at the end. Not without regret, I sacrifice to 
faithful literality the pleasure of making readers ignorant of 
Italian acquainted with the exquisite ternary rhyme of the 
Commedia, so ably preserved in the translations by Mr. 
Cayley, the Rev. John Dayman, and the Rev. Prebendary 
Ford. The like faithful literality will be found to charac- 
terize my own rendering of passages from Dante's prose 
works ; the blemish, as it would now by many be considered, 
of frequent tautology being by no means avoided. The 
principle of translation should, I think, be one thing, wh^n 
an author and a style unique and immortal are to be 
set in living truth before living eyes; quite another thing 
when minds merely need to be enabled profitably and 
pleasurably to assimilate thoughts generated and originally 
expressed, it may even be with no distinctive force or grace, 
in a tongue not their own. Whether the tautology of classic 
Greece and mediaeval Italy be in truth a blemish at all, is a 
question foreign to my present purpose. 

Where commentators differ, especially on minor points, 
I frequently adopt without discussion that view which 
most commends itself to my own mind. And in any slight 
hints, whether original or not, on the interpretation of the 

Obligations acknowledged. 

poem, the one charge I would earnestly deprecate is that 
of exclusiveness. It is scarcely less difficult to determine 
what is not, than what is, in Dante. The prismatic charac- 
ter before noticed in particular passages belongs still more 
to his marvellous work as a whole, and according to each 
one's tone of mind and groove of thought will be, to a great 
extent, the contemplations based upon it. A second Dante 
alone could confidently exclude any sense not intrinsically 
unworthy of the first. 

It only remains to acknowledge my obligations, among 
Italian commentators, to my late dear Father, to Professor 
Ferrazzi, and to Signer Fraticelli, whose excellent diagrams 
have supplied the designs, though not the whole of the 
letterpress, for three of my own : among English commen- 
tators to Mr. Cayley, and to Professor Longfellow both for 
the information gathered from his notes, and for his most 
kind welcome to the use of his eminently faithful and 
beautiful translation. 



Mi mise dentro alle segrete cose. 

He ushered me within the secret things. 

Inf. m. 21. 

'T^O one unacquainted with the Ptolemaic system, and 
* unprovided with suitable maps, the Dantesque cos- 
mology presents difficulties almost as insuperable as those 
geography would offer to a child destitute of an atlas. The 
scheme of the Universe has to be picked out here and 
there throughout the poem ; and I propose in this chapter 
to present my reader with a preliminary bird's-eye view of 
that world through which we are about to become fellow- 
pilgrims with the Poet. 

The central point of Dante's Universe is that central 
point of the Earth which constitutes the centre of gravity. 
Hither with Dante we descend through the Pit of Hell; 
hence painfully threading our way through the bowels of 
Earth's opposite hemisphere, emerge on the shore of the 
single island dotting the vast Ocean ; climb with toil the 
Mountain of Purgatory, situate within the Spheres of Air and 
Fire, and from the Terrestrial Paradise on its summit ascend 
through the Nine Heavens : traversing thus all the realms 
of Time and Space till we attain our final rest in the all- 
containing, uncontained, timeless, spaceless Empyrean. So 

io The two elemental hemispheres. 

marvellous in conception, so "perfect in order, so dazzling 
in glory, is the Universe unfolded to our view. We proceed 
to consider it in detail. 

Dante divides our globe into two elemental hemispheres : 
the Eastern, chiefly of land ; the Western, almost wholly of 
water. In the midst of the inhabited Land-hemisphere he 
places Jerusalem ; within the same hemisphere, so that its 
central and Hell's lowest point is exactly under Jerusalem, 
he places Hell ; in the midst of the uninhabited Sea-hemi- 
sphere he places Purgatory, as the antipodes to Jerusalem, 
distant from it by the whole diameter of the globe. Thus 
on and within the Earth are situated the temporal and the 
eternal prison-house of sin. Neither, in Dante's view, formed 
part of God's original creation, wherein sin was not ; but 
the fall of Lucifer at once produced the one and prepared 
the other, convulsing and inverting the world which God 
had made. The rebel Seraph fell headlong from Heaven 
directly above the Western hemisphere, till then a conti- 
nent, in whose midst was Eden ; and Earth, in the twofold 
horror of his sight and presence, underwent a twofold 
change. First, to veil her face, she brought in upon her- 
self the vast floods of the Eastern Sea-hemisphere, trans- 
ferring to their place all her dry land, save Eden, which 
thus was left insulated in mid-Ocean. And secondly, to 
escape his contact, as he sank and sank through her sur- 
face, through her bowels, till the middle of his colossal 
frame, having reached the centre of gravity, remained there 
fixed from the sheer physical impossibility of sinking any 
lower, she caused a vast mass of her internal substance to 
flee before his face ; and leaving eternally void the space it 
once had occupied to form the inverted pit-cone of Hell, 

The elemental Spheres. The Heavens. 1 1 

she heaved it up directly under Eden, amid the new waste 
of waters, to form the towering mountain-cone on whose 
peak the Terrestrial Paradise should thenceforth to the end 
of Time sit far above all elemental strife, and whose sides 
should, after the Redemption of Man, furnish the Purgatorial 
stair whereby his foot might aspire once more to tread, his 
eye to contemplate, his regained inheritance. 

Thus two Elements, Earth and Water, hemispherically 
divided, constitute the Sphere which forms the innermost 
and immovable kernel of the Dantesque Universe. It is 
enveloped by the Sphere of Air, subject to the variations of 
heat and cold, rain and drought, wind and tempest, and 
reaching up to that particular point of the Western Mountain 
where Ante- Purgatory ends, and the Gate of S. Peter admits 
holy but still imperfect souls to Purgatory proper, which 
being situated within the Sphere of Fire or ^Ether, is secure 
from atmospheric change. 

Beyond this highest elemental region lie the Nine Heav- 
ens, each alike a hollow revolving sphere, enclosing and 
enclosed. The First Heaven is of the Moon, the Second 
of Mercury, the Third of Venus, the Fourth of the Sun (in 
Dante's time regarded as a planet), the Fifth of Mars, the 
Sixth of Jupiter, the Seventh of Saturn, the Eighth of the 
Fixed Stars ; the Ninth is the Starless Crystalline Heaven or 
'Primum Mobile, which, itself the most rapid of all in its 
revolutions, is the root of Time and Change throughout 
Creation, and the source and measure of the gradually 
slackening movement of all the Heavens within it. Without 
it is the Tenth Heaven, the motionless boundless Empyrean, 
the special dwelling-place of the Most High God, and the 
eternal home of His Saints. These, arranged in the form 

1 2 The Nine Angelic Orders. 

of a Rose, surround a vast effulgent Lake, formed by a 
reflection of the Uncreated Light on the convex summit of 
the Primum Mobile, and so placed that a right line drawn 
downwards from its centre to our globe would touch that 
earthly Jerusalem, whose bud has so wondrously blossomed 
into this Jerusalem which is above. 

Such is the construction of the Dantesque Universe. But 
the scheme of natural and moral philosophy set forth in the Di- 
vina Commedia includes so complete and complicated a theory 
of Astrology as bound up with Cosmology and with the action 
of the Angelic Orders, that I must, even at the risk of tedious- 
ness, endeavor to give my reader some insight into the subject. 

Around the Divine Essence, manifested in the Primum 
Mobile as a luminous Atomic Point, circle evermore the 
Nine Orders of Angels, divided into Three Hierarchies. The 
first and innermost hierarchy consists of the Seraphim, the 
Cherubim, the Thrones ; the second of the Dominations, 
the Virtues, the Powers ; the third of the Principalities, the 
Archangels, the Angels. The celestial hosts thus disposed 
are at once passive and active. All alike, gazing on the 
Divine Centre, are passively drawn by It, the Seraphim 
immediately, the Cherubim through the medium of the 
Seraphim, the Thrones through that of the Cherubim, and so 
on, each Order through that next above it. And all alike, 
as is self-evident, actively draw towards that same Centre, 
each the Order next below it, till finally the Angels, having 
none lower of their own nature to draw, draw mankind. 

This chain of attraction is, as I conceive, wholly moral. A 
second chain of influence is partly moral and partly material. 

Each Angelic Order moves the Heaven inversely corre- 
sponding to it ; the Seraphim as the First Order move the 

The Movers and the Moved. 13 

Ninth Heaven, the Cherubim as the Second Order move the 
Eighth Heaven, and so on in succession through all the 
Nine. But in the mutual relations between the Circles 
moving and the Circles moved, while velocity corresponds 
to velocity, not extension but intensity corresponds to ex- 
tension. For two are the centres : God Uncreated, Infinite, 
Highest ; Earth created, finite, lowest. Earth is the centre 
of the Heavens ; proximity to the Earth-centre implies 
contraction of circuit and slackness of motion ; recession 
from the Earth-centre is proportionate approximation to the 
manifested Deity, and therefore implies expansion of circuit 
and acceleration of motion. But the centre of the Angels 
is God Most High, proximity to Whom implies the utmost 
perfection whereof the creature is capable. And as, from 
the very nature of concentric circles, such perfection cannot 
in this case be expressed by greater extension of circuit, it 
is expressed by intensity of radiance, and by a velocity of 
motion which decreases here for precisely the same reason 
that in the case of the Heavens it increases with expansion 
of circuit, i.e., that such expansion here implies recession 
from the Divine Centre and approximation to Earth. 

The Universe, thus constructed and governed, presents a 
marvellous threefold gradation and order : in highest place 
pure Form or Mind wholly active, the Nine Angelic Choirs 
moving the Heavens and not moved ; in middle place Form 
conjoined with Matter both active and passive, the Nine 
Heavens moved by the Angels and moving the Elements ; 
in lowest place pure Matter wholly passive, the Four Elements 
moved by the Heavens and not moving. 

All creatures are immediately or mediately emanations of 
the Mind and Will of God, and impressed with His Light. 

14 Creatures perfect and imperfect. 

Such as immediately proceed from Him are perfectly en- 
lightened, immortal, incorruptible, and free, as not subject 
to powers which had no share in their formation. To this 
perfect class belong not only the Angels as pure Mind, but 
Man as Mind combined with Matter formed as well as 
created by the hand of God Himself, so that nought save 
his own abuse of his free-will could have disfranchised him 
of his original nobility, and even in his fallen estate the 
Heavens, however they may influence his inclinations, can- 
not force his choice. But the Elements and the things 
thereof compounded, as brute beasts and vegetables, though 
their matter was of course created immediately by the 
Almighty, according to this hypothesis derive their light, 
together with their form or animating principle, through the 
interposition and influence of the Heavens, and are in con- 
sequence imperfectly enlightened, mortal, corruptible, and 
bond ; albeit Divine Providence, infusing the celestial virtues 
of informing and of ruling, infuses also those of preserv- 
ing and sustaining the dependent and subject elemental 

Manifold are the philosophic questions in whose answer 
these theories will be found more or less involved. 

A few notes respecting time are needed in conclusion. 
Dante, in accordance with S. Thomas Aquinas, but not with 
S. Jerome, makes the creation of the Angels simultaneous 
with that of the Universe : appealing for confirmation to 
many passages of Holy Scripture probably, among others, 
to that adduced on this subject by the Fathers, ' He that 
liveth eternally created all things together' 1 and also to 

1 Ecclus. xviii. i. 

Notes respecting time. 1 5 

Reason, which cannot allow the Movers to have long re- 
mained without their perfection, i.e., without aught to move. 
The Fall of the rebel Angels he considers to have taken 
place within twenty seconds of their creation, and to have 
originated in the pride which made Lucifer unwilling to 
await the time prefixed by his Maker for enlightening him 
with perfect knowledge. 

The creation of Man would seem, in this system, to have 
been subsequent to the upheaval of Paradise ; his expulsion 
thence was effected seven hours after his location there. 

At what time, and by what means, the dwelling of our 
first parents or of their posterity was transferred to the 
Eastern continent, Dante, so far as I know, leaves untold. 1 
One only instance previous to his own pilgrimage does he 
imagine in which, after this transference, the eye of living 
man rested -on the Western Island-Mountain. With this 
singularly beautiful narrative I close the present chapter : 
the speaker is Ulysses, suffering in Hell as an evil coun- 

' When 

From Circe I departed, who be}ond 
A year withdrew me near Gaeta there, 
Before /Eneas so had named the place, 2 
Neither son's sweetness, nor the suffering 

1 The following curious theory has been conversationally suggested. 
The Pit of Hell being vast enough to harbor so large a number out of 
all generations of mankind, the Western Mountain, consisting of the 
earth thrown up from that pit, is necessarily of the same proportions, 
and may have sufficed for the dwelling of the entire race until the 
Deluge, after which event the Ark was providentially guided to deposit 
its freight on Mount Ararat in the Eastern Hemisphere. 

2 ' Gaeta, the ancient Cajeta, is said to have been so named by ^E 
after his nurse, who died there.' 

1 6 The transit to the Western hemisphere. 

Of mine old father, nor the love so due 

Which ought to have made glad Penelope, 

Could quell in me the ardor which I had 

For growing to be expert of the world. 

And of the worthiness and vice of men. 

But I set off on the high open sea 

With one ship only, and that little band 

By which I had not been deserted yet. 

I saw one shore and other far as Spain, 

Far as Morocco, and the isle o' the Sards, 

And others which that sea bathes roundabout. 

I and my fellows we were old and slow 

When we had come unto the narrow pass 

Where Hercules has stamped his cautionings 

That man should so proceed no further on : 

On my right left I Seville ; I had left 

Already Ceuta on my other hand. 

" O brothers," said I, "ye that are arrived 

Through hundred-thousand dangers to the West, 

Unto this now so little waking-time 

Which is remaining of your senses still 

Endure not to deny the experience 

Of the unpeopled world behind the sun. 

Consider what is your original : 

Ye were not made that ye should live like beasts, 

But follow after virtue and the truth." 

I with this brief oration so did make 

My comrades eager for the journeying 

I scarce could have retained them afterwards. 

And, having turned our poop into the morn, 

We made the oars wings to the maddened flight, 

Toward the left hand gaining evermore. 

I saw by night already all the stars 

Within the other pole, and ours so low 

Arrival in the Western hemisphere. 1 7 

It rose not forth from the marine expanse. 
Five times re-kindled and as many razed 
Had been the light from underneath the moon 
Since we had entered in the lofty pass, 
When a brown mountain there appeared to us 
Upon the distance, and to me it seemed 
So lofty as I had not witnessed one. 
We were rejoiced, and soon it turned to dole ; 
For there was born a whirlwind from the new 
Country, and struck the fore-side of the ship. 
With all its waters thrice it made her wheel ; 
The poop rise at the fourth time uppermore, 
The prow go down, as pleased Another One, 
Till over us again the sea was closed.' 

Inf. xxvi. 90-142. 


Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita. 
In midway of the journey of our life. 

Inf. i. i. 

LET us now inquire what he was, who, born, as he be- 
lieved, into an universe in the main so constructed 
and so governed, lived in it fifty-six years, and departed not 
till he had tracked a path to aid future generations safely 
to work their way from its lowest to its highest sphere : 
what she was, at whose prompting he began, by whose 
guidance he completed the pilgrimage wherein he gained 
his own experience of that path. Not that this latter inquiry 
can be answered as confidently as the former. The 
Beatrice of Dante remains to this day the perplexity of 
scholars and of commentators, some regarding her as a 
personage from first to last purely allegorical. I adopt the 
view of Boccaccio and the majority. 

Dante Allighieri was born at Florence in May, 1265, of 
a noble family adhering to the Guelph party. When nearly 
nine years old he was taken by his father to a festival held 
at the house of Folco Portinari. He there beheld his host's 
daughter ; and this first great event of his conscious life, 
coloring all its after course, he himself thus narrates : 

1 Nine times already since my birth had the Heaven of 

D antes first sight of Beatrice. 1 9 

Light 1 returned almost to the same point in respect of its. 
own gyration, when there first appeared to my eyes the 
glorious Lady of my mind : who was called Beatrice by 
many who knew not what she was called. She had already 
been so long in this life as that, within her time, the Starry 
Heaven had moved towards the eastern part one of the 
twelve parts of a degree : so that almost at the beginning 
of her ninth year she appeared to me, and I saw her almost 
at the end of my ninth year. And she appeared to me 
clothed in a most noble color, a subdued and decorous 
crimson ; girdled and adorned in such wise as was suitable 
to her most youthful age. ... I say that thenceforward Love 
swayed my soul, which was even then espoused to him ; and 
began to assume over me so great and so assured a lord- 
ship, empowered thereto in virtue of my imagination, that 
I must needs perform to the full all his pleasures. He 
oftentimes commanded me to seek to behold this youngest 
Angel ; wherefore I in my boyhood many times sought her 
out, and saw her so noble and laudable in bearing, that 
certes of her might be spoken that word of the poet Homer : 
She appeared not to be made by any mortal man, but by 
God. And albeit her image, which abode with me continu- 
ally, were the triumphant strength of Love to sway me ; yet 
was it of so exceeding noble virtue, that it did at no time suffer 
Love to rule me without the A faithful counsel of Reason in 
those things wherein such counsel was useful to be heard.' 2 

At ten years old he lost his father ; but this did not inter- 
rupt the course of his most careful and liberal education. 
Before he was quite eighteen he wrote his first sonnet, in- 
spired by an incident which he thus records : 

1 *'. e. the Heaven of the Sun, or Fourth Heaven. 2 Vita Nuova ii. 

2O Beatrice salutes Dante. Her marriage. 

'When so many days had passed as exactly completed 
nine years from the above-written appearance of this most 
gracious creature, on the last of the days it happened that 
this marvellous lady appeared to me, clothed in purest 
white, between two gentle ladies, who were more advanced 
in age ; and passing through a street she turned her eyes 
towards the place where I stood greatly abashed, and, of 
her ineffable courtesy whose merit is now recompensed in 
the other world, she saluted me so virtuously that I seemed 
then to behold the utmost limits of beatitude. The hour 
wherein her sweetest salutation reached me was assuredly 
the ninth of that day ; and whereas that was the first time 
that her words went forth to come to my ears, I sucked in 
such sweetness that as one inebriated I departed from the 
people.' * 

There is no reason to believe that Dante ever sought 
Beatrice in marriage, nor any distinct indication that she so 
much as knew of the pure, lofty, ideal love she had inspired. 
The very early age at which Florentine fathers affianced 
their daughters makes it not impossible that even before 
her ninth year she was engaged to that Simon de' Bardi 
whose wife, at the age of twenty, she became. Dante never 
alludes to her marriage, though he thus touchingly records 
her father's death in 1288, and his own sympathy in her 
grief a sympathy doubtless all the deeper from his per- 
sonal experience of the like irreparable loss, and further 
quickened by the virtues of the dead, whose last years had 
been hallowed by the building and opening of a hospital 
somewhat strangely characterized at the time as ' the column 
of the state.' 2 

1 Vita Nuova iii. 2 Ferrazzi, Manuale Dantesco, vol. ii. pp. 21, 22. 

Death of Folco Portinari and of Beatrice. 2 1 

'. . . As it pleased that Glorious Lord, Who denied not 
death to Himself, he who had been the father of so great a 
marvel as was manifestly this most noble Beatrice, going 
forth of this life departed in very truth to eternal glory. 
I Wherefore, inasmuch as such parting is painful to those 
that remain, and have been friends of him that departeth ; 
and no friendship is there so intimate as that of a good 
father for a good child, or of a good child for a good father ; 
and this lady was good in the highest degree, and her 
father (as is by many believed, and as is true) was good in 
a high degree, it is manifest that this lady was most bitterly 
full of grief.' * 

But ere very long he who had mourned with her was called 
to mourn yet more sorely for her : first in prophetic vision of 
her death-chamber, then in agonizing reality. In 1290, at 
the age of twenty- four, Beatrice died. 

'The Lord of this most gracious creature, that is the 
Lord of Justice, called this noble being to the life of glory 
under the standard of that blessed queen Mary, whose name 
was in greatest reverence in the words of this beatified 
Beatrice.' 2 

He proceeds to relate various incidents, taking place as it 
would seem within the two years and a half following her 
death : the most prominent of these is his strong temporary 
.attraction towards an unnamed lady descried gazing at him 
through a window, and touching his feelings first by her 
evident sympathy in his grief, afterwards by her personal 
qualities. And here meets us one of the most intricate 
of Dantesque perplexities. In the Vita Nuova 3 he charac- 
terizes this attraction or propensity as the 'adversary of 

1 Vita Nuffva xxii. 2 U. xxix. 8 Ib, xl. 

22 Dante seeks consolation in Philosophy. 

Reason,' describes it as beset even while it lasted with mis- 
givings and struggles, and relates how it was finally subdued 
by a ' strong imagination ' of Beatrice, in guise like to that 
wherein he had first beheld her, a child in her ninth year 
habited in crimson. Yet in the Convito, in language whose 
directness it seems impossible to evade, he declares the 
lady of whom he became enamoured after his first love, and 
who by a previous passage 1 is identified with the ' lady of 
the window,' to have been 'the most beautiful and most 
noble daughter of the Emperor of the Universe, to whom 
Pythagoras gave the name of Philosophy.' 2 In most 
touching words he relates how Philosophy became his con- 
solation : ' I say that as by me was lost the first delight of 
my soul, of whom mention is made above, I remained 
pierced with such sadness that no comfort availed me. 
Nevertheless, after a while my mind, which sought out how 
to be healed, bethought itself (since neither my own nor 
others' consoling availed) to recur to the mode whereby 
some mourner had aforetime found consolation. And I 
set myself to read that book, not known to many, of 
Boethius, wherein he, captive and downfallen, had consoled 
himself. And hearing also that Tullius had written another 
book, wherein, treating of friendship, he had spoken by the 
way of the consolation of Laelius, a man most excellent, 
concerning the death of Scipio his friend, I set myself to 
read that. And though it were hard to me at first to enter 
into their purport, at length I entered as far within it as the 
art of grammar which I possessed and a little of my intellect 
could do ; by which intellect many things, as in a dream, I 
saw already ; as in the Vita Nuova may be seen. And as 

1 Conv. ii. 2. ' 2 Ib, ii. 16. 

of the Window is 

it often falls out that a man goes in search of silver, and 
beyond his intent finds gold which some hidden cause 
points out, not perhaps without divine overruling; I, who 
sought to console me, found not only a remedy for my tears, 
but words of authors and of science and of books ; which 
considering, I assuredly judged that Philosophy, who was 
the lady of these authors, of these sciences, and of these 
books, was a thing exceeding high. And I imagined her in 
form like unto a noble lady ; nor could I imagine her in any 
attitude save one of commiseration; wherefore so fain was 
the sense in truth to gaze upon her, that scarcely could I 
turn it aside from her. And passing beyond this imagining 
I began to go where she showed herself in very truth, that 
is, into the schools of the Religious, and to the disputations 
of philosophers ; so that in brief space, perhaps of thirty 
months, I began to feel so much of her sweetness, that her 
love expelled and destroyed every other thought.' 1 

How is so astounding a discrepancy to be accounted 
for? How could such a propensity as this be the adversary 
of Reason? or the 'strong imagination' of Beatrice, for 
whom her lover's affection, even in childhood and earliest 
youth, had never been without the counsel of Reason, have 
the effect of subduing such a propensity? I would observe 
first, that we have not the whole of the Convito ; fourteen 
Canzoni with their comment were planned by Dante, 2 three 
only, alas ! were written ; and of course it is possible that 
the mystery was to be cleared up as the work proceeded. 
Secondly, with very great diffidence I venture to hint at a 
solution which seems to me not inconsistent with either of 
the conflicting statements, nor yet with this additional start- 

1 Coin-, ii 13. 2 ib. i. I. 

24 Argument respecting Lady of the Window. 

ling fact that in the Commedia Beatrice is herself invested 
with the attributes of that wisdom which is asserted in the 
Convito to be the body of Philosophy. 1 It appears, then, 
that the effect of this philosophic propensity was so to en- 
gross Dante's mind as actually and increasingly to supersede 
the thought of his lost treasure, 2 and the at first prominent 
consolation of dwelling on her celestial bliss. 8 It appears 
also, from certain passages of the Purgatorio hereafter to be 
read in their proper place, 4 that this period of his life was 
one of more or less sensual gratification and earthly aim. 
Hence it seems natural to infer that his Philosophy was at 
this stage of a theoretical rather than of a practical char- 
acter ; and if so, in a most true though limited sense might 
it be termed the adversary of Reason, as all will testify who 
have experienced the lulling spell of an intellectual and 
sensitive delight in good running parallel with a voluntary 
and actual indulgence in evil. May it not be that after 
many alternations of struggling and succumbing despite his 
better self and his sage maxims, a most vivid sense of pollu- 
tion and of peril, aided by a sudden strong imagination of 
Beatrice, came upon him ; and that as entranced he gazed 
on her glorified loveliness he instinctively identified with 
her his Philosophy already transfigured, potent not only 
now to charm and soothe, potent to rule ; to the Intellect 
a light, to the Affections a compass and a balance, a sceptre 
over the Will ? From the moment of this inward impression 
we notice that no more is heard of the lady of the window, 
who seems thus to occupy in the Vita Nuova a position 
somewhat analogous to that of Virgil in the Commedia : she 

1 Conv. iii. 15. -?Wita Nuova xxxviii, xxxix. 8 Conv. ii. 10. 
4 Pur. xxiii. 115-118, xxx. 55-144, xxxl 1-90. 

Conclusion of Vita Nuova. Dante marries. 25 

representing the speculative pleasures and consolations, he 
the moral laws and suasions of Philosophy. He too will in 
turn vanish from before the face of Beatrice, not as counter- 
acted, but as included and transcended; her presence 
waited on no less by his human than by her own super- 
human Virtues. Thus in her one person are finally con- 
centrated all nobleness, all beauty, and all rectitude of 
Nature and of Grace. 

Whether or not this theory can be sustained, it is certain 
that in renewed and perpetual allegiance to his First-Beloved 
he signs and seals his Vita Nuova : 

* ... There appeared to me a marvellous vision wherein 
I saw things, which made me resolve to say no more of 
this blessed one until I could more worthily treat of her. 
And to come to this I study as much as I can, as she 
knows in truth. So that, if it shall be the pleasure of Him 
by Whom all things live that my life shall last somewhat 
longer, I hope to say of her that which has never been said 
of any. And may it then please Him, Who is the Lord of 
courtesy, that my soul may go to behold the glory of its 
lady, that is, that blessed Beatrice who gloriously gazes on 
the face of Him who is blessed throughout all ages. 

In 1291 Dante was persuaded by his friends to espouse 
Gemma Donati. She bore him seven children before his 
exile ; after it he never saw her again. 

So far his private life ; during which, by profound and 
extensive studies both in Divine and human science, by the 
exercise of all graceful arts and accomplishments, and by 
the teaching of inward experience, he was forming and 

1 Vita Nuova xliii. 

26 Origin of Guelphs and Ghibellines. 

deepening the character afterwards to be manifested in 
public life. 

Public life at that period throughout Italy, and especially 
in Florence, to all who took a prominent and energetic 
part, was thorny indeed. The main distinction was that 
between Ghibellines and Guelphs two names in their ori- 
gin far removed from Italy. They were first heard in Ger- 
many in 1140, when at Winsberg in Suabia a battle was 
fought between two contending claimants of the Empire ; 
the one, Conrad of Hohenstauffen, Duke of Franconia, 
chose for his battle-cry Waiblingen, the name of his patri- 
monial castle in Wiirtemberg; the other, Henry the Lion, 
Duke of Saxony, chose his own family name of Welf, or 
Wolf. Conrad proved victorious, and his kindred to the 
fourth ensuing generation occupied the imperial throne ; 
yet both war-cries survived the contest which gave them 
birth, lingering on in Germany as equivalents of Imperial- 
ist and anti- Imperialist. By a process perfectly clear to 
philologists, they were modified in Italy into the forms 
Ghibellino and Guelfo; and the Popes being there the 
great opponents of the Emperors, an Italian Guelph was 

! a Papalist. The cities were mainly Guelph ; the nobles 

i most frequently Ghibelline. 

A private feud had been the means of involving Florence 
in the contest. In 1215 just three quarters of a century 
after the victory of Conrad Buondelmonte de' Buondel- 
monti, a young nobleman affianced to a maiden of the 
Amidei, broke his troth and married one of the Donati. 
The Amidei revenged themselves by his assassination. The 
Emperor Frederick II., fourth of the House of Suabia, took 
their part, and the feud once kindled burned on and spread. 

Whites and Blacks. D ante a Prior e. 27 

But the Ghibelline party having been expelled from 
Florence this was not the discord with which Dante, on 
his accession to office, would have to deal. The Guelph 
party was split into two factions the Black and the White, 
also taking their rise in a private quarrel, originating towards 
the end of the thirteenth century, not in Florence, but in 
Pistoja. A rich merchant of that place, named Cancellieri, 
had married in succession two wives, whose respective 
children went by the names of Whites and Blacks ; names 
which afforded a too convenient distinction when, in conse- 
quence of a gambling dispute, their descendants became in- 
volved in deadly feud. The Florentine family of the Cerchi 
sided with the Whites, the Donati with the Blacks ; hence 
multiplied dissensions, involving wellnigh the whole city. 

As early as in 1289 Dante had, at the battle of Campal- 
dino and the siege of Caprona, borne arms as a Guelph in 
civil war. In 1295 he became a member of the Special 
Council of the Republic, consisting of eighty of the best 
and most influential citizens, and in 1300, at the age of 


In midway of the journey of his life, 

was elected one of the six Priori (chief magistrates of his city) 
for the months of June and July. We shall see in the next 
chapter what view he took of the moral state of Italy, and 
especially of Florence, at the time of his election. Suffice 
it here to say that during his brief tenure of office he 
concurred with his colleagues in banishing to Sarzana the 
heads of the White, to Perugia those of the Black faction. 
But the following year the Whites were recalled by the 
State ; the Blacks, breaking their ban, returned of them- 
selves, and by intrigue secured, for the so-called pacifica- 

28 Dante accused, condemned and banished. 

tion of Florence, the intervention of Charles de Valois 
(brother of Philippe le Bel) , then travelling towards Rome 
in his way to the hoped-for conquest of Sicily. The wiser 
members of the Government, seeing through the specious 
scheme of the Blacks, sent Dante with three others on 
an embassy to Pope Boniface VIII., whose veto would 
have nullified the transaction ; but the prolonged delay in 
obtaining that veto gave the supporters of the Pacificator 
ample leisure so to treat Florence that, as historians agree, 
less evil befalls a city taken by assault. 

On the news of these oppressions reaching Rome, Dante 
hurried homewards, but only to find his house pillaged and 
burned, and himself accused of undue partiality to the 
Whites both during and after his tenure of office. Sum- 
moned to answer a charge of peculation, he was not even 
allowed time to .appear, but was in January, 1302, con- 
demned, as contumacious, to a heavy fine ; and finally, in 
March, to perpetual banishment, under pain of being 
burned alive should he again be found in his native city. 

From this time forth, forsaking the Guelph party alto- 
gether, Dante was a Ghibelline. One by one possibilities of 
return seemed to arise ; one by one they failed. In March, 
1304, while he was at Arezzo, the recently-elected Pope 
Benedict XI. sent Cardinal da Prato on a pacific mission to 
Florence, but the attempt was unsuccessful, and four 
months later the ambassador quitted the city, laying it 
under an interdict. In July of the same year a military 
effort of the Poet's fellow-exiles proved most disastrous, and 
he transferred his residence to Bologna. In 1312 took place 
the celebrated Italian enterprise of the Emperor Henry of 
Luxemburg, and Dante's hopes were excited to the utmost : 

Dante rejects the amnesty. 29 

but yet again they were doomed to bitter disappointment by 
the sudden death of that illustrious Prince. 

In 1316 the State of Florence did indeed publish an am- 
nesty from which Dante was not excepted, but his return 
was made conditional on payment of a fine, and submission 
to a public acknowledgment of criminality : and here is a 
portion of his answer, conveyed in a Latin epistle to a 
Religious, who seems to have been his kinsman : ' 

' Is this then the glorious fashion of Dante Allighieri's 
recall to his country, after suffering exile for wellnigh three 
lustres? Is this the due recompense of his innocence mani- 
fest to all? This the fruit of his abundant sweat and toil 
endured in study ? Far from the man of Philosophy's 
household this baseness proper to a heart of mire, that he, 
in the manner of any sciolist and other infamous person, 
should endure as a prisoner to be put to ransom ! Far 
from the Proclaimer of Justice that he, offended and insulted, 
to his offenders, as to those who have deserved well of him, 
should pay tribute ! This, Father, is not the way to return 
to my country : but if by you or by another there can be 
found another way that shall not derogate from Dante's fame 
and honor, readily will I thereto betake myself. But if by 
no honorable way can entrance be found into Florence, 
there will I never enter. What ? Can I not from any cor- 
ner of the earth behold the sun and the stars ? Can I not 
under every climate of heaven meditate the all-sweet truths, 
except I first make myself a man of no glory, but rather of 
ignominy in the face of the people and city of Florence ? ' 

Thus nobly and immovably resolved, he never again be- 
held his native land, but at one petty Ghibelline court after 
another alternated between his own Sphere of Air and 
Sphere of Fire. Bitter indeed was his experience of what 

30 Dante dies in exile. 

he so touchingly, by the mouth of his ancestor Cacciaguida, 
describes as his coming fate : 

Thou shalt abandon everything beloved 
Most tenderly, and this the arrow is 
Which first the bow of banishment shoots forth. 

Thou shalt have proof how savoreth of salt 
The bread of others, and how hard a row 
The going down and up another's stairs. 

And that which most shall weigh upon thy shoulders 
Will be the bad and foolish company 
With which into this valley thou shalt fall. 

Par. xvn. 55-63. 

And yet, when enraptured and enrapturing he uttered his 
unearthly Commedia, he was as one already swallowed up 
in Infinity and Eternity. Can these words, written as in 
the Starry Heaven, mean less? 

The threshing-floor that maketh us so proud, 
To me revolving with the eternal Twins, 
Was all apparent made from hill to harbor ! 

Par. xxii. 151-153. 

So Dante Allighieri lived, so suffered, and so wrought ; till 
in 1321, at Ravenna, under the protection of Count Guido 
Novello da Polenta,in his fifty-seventh year, by means of 
a fever, he passed, we fervently hope, into the full, final, and 
blessed realization of those things whereof, for our endless 
good, he had so long and so earnestly testified. 

Dante dates his supernatural pilgrimage as taking place 
A.D. 1300; his great poem must therefore be read as historic 
in all events antecedent to that date, prophetic in all subse- 
quent. Yet, in fact, historic in all. The Vita Nuova, the 
work as well as the record of early life, has the soft delicacy 
of Dante's youthful face portrayed by Giotto ; but the Divina 

D antes youthful portrait ; his death-mask. 3 1 

Commedia, whether professedly narrating the past or the 
future, is throughout impressed with the deeper, sterner, 
sadder lines to be traced in his solemn death-mask. 1 

1 The authenticity of this death-mask was lately confirmed in a 
singular manner. In the sepulchral chapel of Braccioforte, contiguous 
to the tomb of Dante at Ravenna, was discovered, on the 27th May, 
1865, a box containing human bones, with an inscription declaring 
them to be the bones of Dante, placed there on the i8th October, 1677, 
by Antonio Santi, a Franciscan friar. To his Order the honor of the 
great poet's sepulture originally belonged ; and his motive for remov- 
ing the bones to a receptacle known only to himself, and perhaps a 
few others, appears to have been dread lest the Municipality of Ra- 
venna should make good a repeatedly-urged claim against the Friars 
to jurisdiction over the tomb. In that secret shelter the precious 
relics lay hidden till discovered as above related. The most careful 
and scientific investigation by the Government verified them so far as 
possible as the bones of Dante Allighieri. The mask was found to 
correspond in many important parts to the head of the skeleton. 
The cavity of the cranium being filled with rice, the weight of this 
was ascertained to be 1420 grammes. [Professor Huxley states that 
the heaviest brain weighed by Professor Wagner that of a woman 
amounted to 1872 grammes; next to it comes the brain of Cuvier 
(1861 grammes), then Byron (1807 grammes), and then an insane per- 
son (1783 grammes) : the lightest adult brain recorded (720 grammes) 
was that of an idiotic female.] Without committing themselves to 
the science of phrenology, the learned examiners record the following 
observations on the skull : Very noticeable are the osseous regions 
connected with the organs of poetry, music, satire, religion, benevo- 
lence, and those which indicate love of autlority and independence, 
self-esteem, pride, loftiness of spirit, self-love ; those also which are 
connected with the mechanical talents of drawing, sculpture, and 
architecture. There is a notable development of the parts corre- 
sponding to the organs of circumspection and caution. The char- 
acteristics of a philosophic mind show themselves ; such a mind as 
possesses in an eminent degree the inductive faculty, the habit of pon- 
dering great matters, the aptitude of discovering the most abstract and 
remote relations between things in sum, the organization is that of 
those universal geniuses who have been the true teachers of the human 
race. (Relazione della Commissione Governativa eletta a verificare il 
fatto del ritrovamento delle Ossa di Dante in Ravenna. Firenze, 1865.) 


Questa selva selvaggia ed aspra e forte. 

What this wood was, savage, and rough, and strong. 

Jnf.i. 3 . 

TN A. D. 1300, the year of the Jubilee ; at dawn on the 
-*- 25th of March, the Feast of the Annunciation, then 
reckoned as New Year's Day, and happening that year to 
be also Maundy Thursday; Dante, then nearly thirty-five, 
and approaching the time of his election to the Priorato, 
perceived himself to have wandered while half asleep from 
the right path, and to be actually entangled in the mazes of 
a dark wood. Before him rose a hill whose sides were 
clothed with sunshine ; but no man walked thereon. Dante 
took courage to begin the ascent, and had made some little 
progress in climbing, the lower foot being ever the firmer, 
when he found himself successively withstood and repelled 
by three wild beasts, ^ swift Leopard, a raging Lion, and a 
craving greedy , Wolf. These, but chiefly the last, were 
gradually and irresistibly forcing him back upon the sun- 
less plain, when suddenly he became aware that he was no 
longer alone. 

While I was crushing down to the low place, 
To me was offered one before mine eyes 
Who seemed by reason of long silence hoarse. 

' 4/ **- 

Dante seeks aid from Virgil. 33 

In the great desert him when I beheld 
' Have pity upon me ! ' I cried to him, 

* Who that thou be, or Shade, or certain man.* 

He answered me : ' Not man : man once I was ; 

Also my parents were Lombardi'ans, 

Mantuans as to country both the two. 

Sub Julio was I born, although 'twere late, 

And under good Augustus lived in Rome, 

In the time of the false and lying gods. 

I was a poet, and I sang that just 

Son of Anchises who did come from Troy, 

After that haughty I lion had been burned. 

But why to such annoy returnest thou ? 

Wherefore not scale the delectable mount 

Which of all joy is cause and principle ? ' 

* Art thou that Virgil, then, that fountain-head 
Which spreads abroad so wide a stream of speech ? ' 
Replied I to him with a brow ashamed. 

4 O of the other poets honor and light, 

Avail me the long study and great love 

Which have impelled me search thy volume through ! 

My master thou, and thou mine author art : 

Thou only art the one from whom I took 

The noble style which won me honoring. 

Behold the beast because of which I turned : 

Do thou against her help me, famous sage, 

Because she makes me tremble, veins and pulse.' 

' Thee it behooves to hold another course, 
He answered, after that he saw me weep, 
* If thou would' st get from out this savage 

34 Virgil proposes the threefold Pilgrimage. 

v_ _^^ 

Whence I, for thy more good, think and discern 
Thou follow me : and I will be thy guide, 
And bring thee hence by an eternal place ; 
Where thou shalt hearken the despairing shrieks, 
Shalt see the ancient Spirits dolorous, 
That each one outcries for the second death. 

, And thou shalt then see those who are content 

| Within the fire, because they hope to come, 

\ When that it be, unto the blessed race. 

' To whom thereafter if thou wouldst ascend, 
A Soul there '11 be more worthy this than I : 
Thee will I leave with her, when I depart : 
Seeing that Emperor Who above there rules, 
Because I was rebellious to His law, 
Wills to His city no access by me. 
In every part He sways, and there He reigns : 
There is His city, and the exalted seat. 
Oh happy he whom thither He elects ! ' 

And I to him : * Poet, I crave of thee, 

And by that God of Whom thou knewest not, 

That I may flee this evil so, and worse, 

That thou do take me whither now thou saidst, 

So that I may behold Saint Peter's gate, 

And those whom thou dost make so sorrowful.' 

Then on he moved, and I kept after him. 

Inf. i. 61-93, 112-136. 

But the rayless atmosphere seemed yet again to exert its 
baleful influence. Scarcely had they set forward when 
Dante, appalled alike at the prospect before him and at 
his own unworthiness, expressed his doubts and shrinkings, 
and was afresh and more effectually encouraged. 

Virgil tells of the descent of Beatrice. 35 

'If I have rightly understood thy speech,' 
Replied that Shade of the magnanimous, 
' With abjectness thy spirit is oppressed ; 
Which oftentimes encumbereth a man, 
Diverting him from honored enterprise, 
As seeing false, a beast, when it is dusk. 
In order that thou free thee of this fear, 
I '11 tell thee why I came, and what I heard 
At the first point when I was grieved for thee. 
I was among the Spirits in suspense : 
I A lady called me, blest and beautiful, 
Such that I did beseech her to command. 
Her eyes were shining more than does the star, 
And she began to address me, soft and low, 
With voice angelic in her utterance. 
" O courteous Spirit thou of Mantua, 
Of whom the fame yet in the world endures, 
And shall endure as far as motion does, 
One that is mine and is not Fortune's friend 
Is so impeded on the desert slope, 
Upon his path, that he is turned for dread ; 
And he 's so far already strayed, I fear, 
That to his help I may be risen late, 
By that which I in Heaven have heard of him. 
Now do thou move, and with thine ornate speech, 
And what behooves to his deliverance, 
So succor him that I may be consoled. 
I that do make thee go am Beatrice : 
I come from where I would return unto : 
Love moved me, as it maketh me to speak. 
When I shall be in presence of my Lord, 
Thee will I praise unto Him oftentimes." 
Here she was silent ; and then I began ; 
" Lady of Virtue, oh by whom alone 

36 Wherefore Beatrice descended. 

The human race exceeds the whole contents 

Within that heaven which hath its circles least, 1 

So much doth thy commanding pleasure me 

As that obeying, though now 't were, were late : 

Needs thee no further open me thy wish. 

But tell me wherefore thou dost not beware 

Of coming to this centre here-adown, 

From the ample place thou burnest to regain." 

" Since thou so far within desir'st to know, 

I briefly shall apprise thee," she replied, 

" Why I am not afraid to come herein. 

Only those things are to be had in fear 

Which have the potency to do one harm ; 

The others not, for they 're not terrible. 

I, of His grace, am fashioned such by God 

That misery of yours touches not me, 

Nor, of this burning, flame assails me not. 

In heaven a gentle lady is, who grieves 

For this impediment I send thee to, 

So that she breaks the stern decree above. 

Lucia she prayed in her soliciting, 

And said : * Now stands thy faithful one in need 

Of thee ; and him to thee I recommend.' 

Enemy to all cruel, Lucia 

Moved her, and to the place came where was I, 

Who side by side with ancient Rachel sat. 

* Beatrice,' said she, * very praise of God, 

Why succorest not him who loved thee so 

He issued from the vulgar herd for thee ? 

Hearest thou not the anguish of his plaint ? 

Seest thou not the death which combats him 

1 * The Lunar Heaven ; in other words, " Through whom the human 
race excels every other sublunary thing." ' 

Dante encouraged by 

Upon the flood whereof no sea can boast ? ' 1 

Never were persons in the world so swift 

To do their vantage, and to flee their harm, 

As I, upon the proffering such words, 

Came downward hither from my blessed throne, 

Confiding me in thy decorous speech, 

Which honors thee and those who've hearkened it." 

After whenas she had discoursed me this, 

Weeping, she turned away her shining eyes, 

Whereby the swifter made she me to come. 

And unto thee I came, as she did will : 

Away I took thee from before the beast 

Which stopped thee from the fair mount's short ascent. 

What is't then ? Wherefore, wherefore, hold'st thou back ? 

Wherefore dost harbor in thy heart such fear ? 

Daring and valor wherefore hast thou not ? 

Seeing such ladies three beatified 

Have in the court of heaven a care of thee, 

And mine assertion warrants thee such good.' 

Like as the flowerets, by the nightly frost 

Bent down and closed, when the sun whitens them, 

All open on their stalk erect themselves ; 

Such I became as to my courage spent : 

And to my heart such righteous daring flowed 

That, like to one stout-hearted, I began : 

Oh ! she that succored me compassionate ! 

And courteous thou who promptly didst obey 

The veritable words she proffered thee ! 

Thou with desiring hast disposed my heart 

So to the going forward, by thy words, 

1 ' Perhaps an allusion to the hellish river Acheron, which loses itself 
in the centre of earth, instead of emptying into any sea.' 


38 D antes political views. 

That I 've reverted to the first intent. 

Now go, for there 's one only will in both, 

Thou leader, and thou lord, and master thou.' 

So said I to him : and, when he had moved, 
I entered in the lofty wooded way. 

ii. 43-H2- 

These first two cantos of the Inferno must be regarded 
as belonging not to it only, but to the whole Divina Com- 
< media, between which and the .^Vita Nuova they form 
the connecting link. Ere we can even inadequately enter 
into their meaning, we must have some general notion of 
Dante's matured political views as set forth in his treatise 
De Monarchia. His Ghibellinism was neither a narrow 
partisanship, nor a hesitating adherence founded on a nice 
balancing of the more of good and less of evil in the two 
opposing factions. Rather he had formed a vast sublime 
conception, which shall be set forth in his own words : 
' O*ly Man among beings holds mid place between things 
corruptible and things incorruptible ; ... so, alone among 
all beings is he ordained to two ultimate ends : whereof the 
one is the end of Man according as he is corruptible, the 
other his end according as he is incorruptible. Therefore 
that unspeakable Providence proposed to Man two ends; 
the one the beatitude of this life, which consists in the 
operations of his own virtue, and is figured in the Terres- 
trial Paradise ; the other the beatitude of eternal life, which 
consists in the fruition of the Divine Countenance, whereto 
his own virtue cannot mount except it be aided by the 
Divine Light and this is understood by the Celestial 
Paradise. To these two beatitudes, as to divers conclu- 

Doctrine respecting Pope and Emperor. 39 

sions, by divers means must we come. For to the first we 
attain by philosophic teachings, provided we follow these, 
acting according to the moral and intellectual virtues : 1 to 
the second by those spiritual teachings which transcend 
human reason, provided we follow these, acting according 
to the theological virtues, Faith, Hope, and Charity. There- 
fore these conclusions and means albeit they be shown us, 
the one by human reason, which all was made known to 
us by Philosophers ; the other by the Holy Spirit, Who, 
through Prophets and hagiographers, through Jesus Christ, 
Son of God Co-eternal to Himself, and through His disciples, 
revealed truth supernatural and to us necessary human 
cupidity would repudiate, unless men like horses, in their 
bestial nature wandering, by bit and bridle were restrained 
on the road. Wherefore by man was needed a double 
directive according to the double end : that is, of the Su- 
preme Pontiff, who, according to Revelation, should lead 
mankind to eternal life ; and of the Emperor, who, accord- 
ing to philosophic teachings, should direct mankind to 
temporal felicity. And whereas to this port none or few, 
and those with overmuch difficulty, could attain, unless 
mankind, the waves of enticing cupidity being quieted, 
should repose free in the tranquillity of peace ; this is the 
aim to be mainly kept in view by the Guardian of 
the Globe, who is named Roman Prince, to wit, that in the 
garden-plot of mortals freely with peace may men live.' 2 
The expression ' Guardian of the Globe,' is equivalent to 
' Emperor of the whole Earth,' for Dante's conception was 
of nothing less than a temporal supremacy of the Emperor 

1 Note here Dante's esteem of Philosophy, and cf. pp. 21-25. 

2 De MonarchiA^ iii. 15. 

4O Interpretation of the Wood. 

correspondent to the spiritual supremacy of the Pope in 
universality, in direct derivation from Almighty God, and in 
indissoluble connection with the city and people of Rome. 

Under the shadow of this world-filling vision we sit down 
to expound. 

- The Wood appears, beyond a doubt, to be symbolical of 
the moral and political condition of Italy just before Dante's 
election to the Priorato a state of anarchy rapidly lapsing, 
in his apprehension, into savagery. Selva = wood is the root 
of selvaggio = savage ; il viver selvaggio = savage life, is op- 
posed to il viver civile = civil life ; the worst of all evils for 
man on earth is non esser cive x = not to be a citizen = to live 
in the isolation of a savage. Dante then, before reason had 
matured within him, found himself a Guelphic member of a 
Guelphic family, living in a factiously Guelphic community ; 
and became thus involved in a maze of moral and political 
disorder. Before his mental eye rose fair -the hill of Virtue, 
illuminated by the sun of Reason, and waiting for the ideal 
City. He proposed to inaugurate, during his tenure of 
office, the course which should build and people it : how 
colossal was the task, how all but non-existent were the 
materials, we gather from Boccaccio's record of his silence 
and his words on a memorable occasion. ' He being glori- 
ously supreme in the government of the Republic, discourse 
was held among the chief citizens of sending, for a certain 
great need (to check the intrigue of the Blacks with Charles 
of Valois), an embassy to Pope Boniface VIII., and of 
appointing Dante head of this embassy. And he receiv- 
ing the proposal in the presence of all who so counselled, 
and somewhat delaying his reply, one happened to say: 

1 Par. viii. 115-117. 


Questo baratro e'l popol che '1 possiede. 

This gulf, and eke the folk which it possess. 

Inf. xi. 69. 

HELL in Holy Scripture so vividly represented as 
the Pit, that not only is our Blessed Lord said to 
have descended into the lower parts of the earth, but the 
dead Samuel complains of being brought up, and the living 
David and Hezekiah deprecate going down is by Dante 
placed, as we have before seen, within the Earth ; its upper- 
most central spot directly under that portion of her crust 
which sustains Jerusalem, its innermost central point her 
centre of gravity. The annexed plan of a section of the 
Pit shows its form to be that of a funnel, or hollow inverted 
cone ; within whose circuit we shall find that, as space con- 
tracts, torment intensifies. 

Hell is entered through an awful Gate, closed to none ; 
reft of all fastenings since the day when the Conqueror of 
Death, fresh from the Cross, forced through it His resistless 
passage ; and bearing above it, in a dark color, this in- 
scription : 

j * Through me you pass into the grieving realm ; 
\ Through me you pass into the eternal grief; 

44 Ante- Hell: the Neutrals. The four Rivers. 

Through me you pass among the kin that 's lost. 

Justice impelled my Maker the All- High ; 

The Puissance Divine created me, 

The Supreme Wisdom, and the Primal Love. 

Before myself, created things were not, 

Unless eternal : I eternal last. 

Leave off all hope, all ye that enter in.' 

fyf. m. 1-9. 

Immediately beyond this Gate lies a dreary _Antfi=Hell, 
the prison of certain Angels who when there was" war in 
Heaven took neither side, and of an inconceivable multi- 
tude of human Souls who during their probation lived with- 
out infamy and without praise, displeasing alike to God and 
to His foes, selfishly neutral in the great unceasing conflict 
between good and evil ; never alive as noble minds count 
life ; now most really and most awfully dead. For as they 
passed their Time trimming and shuffling in the train of 
public opinion, the sensitive slaves of every gossiping 
tongue of their acquaintance even so, disdained alike by 
Justice and by Mercy, are they left to pass their Eternity 
hurriedly chasing a hurrying standard, while flies and wasps 
sting their naked bodies, and disgusting worms absorb their 
blood and tears. 

Ante-Hell is bounded by the Acheron, the first of the 
four infernal rivers : of whose source a word may fitly here 
be said. In Crete, once fertile, now waste, is situate Mount 
Ida, where Jove was nursed ; and within the cavernous 
hollow of the mountain there yet stands erect the colossal 
form of Jove's father Saturn, King of Crete during the 
Golden Age. As the symbol of Time, he turns his back 
on Damietta, for the East is of the past ; his face toward 

Saturn. Acheron: Charon. 45 

Rome, for the West is of the present and the future. In 
form he is, with slight variations, the Great Image of 
Nebuchadnezzar's dream ; his head is of fine gold, his 
breast and arms of pure silver, his middle of brass, his 
thighs, legs, and left foot of choice iron, his right foot, on 
which he chiefly rests, of clay. Thus representing the 
successive ages of the world in their faultless commence- 
ment and gradual degeneracy, in all his substance save the 
gold he is cleft by a deep fissure, whence trickle the tears 
of human shame and sorrow, till they form streams of force 
to break through the earth's crust, and of volume to con- 
stitute the fQU^btejrajien_riyers Acheron, Styx,J^hlege- 
thon, and Cocytus. With the last three we shall meet in 
due time ; our present business is with Acheron = Joyless, 
which flows down from the silver breast; and on whose 
brink gather from all lands all human souls that depart 
under the wrath of God. Charon,- the first of a long train 
of daemonic personages superhuman, human, and subhuman, 
is the ferryman : and the miserable Shades are driven into 
his boat by the sharp inward spurring of the Divine Justice, 
further enforced upon laggards by blows from the oar. 

Hell proper, which begins on the -, is 
divided into nine concentric Circles ; each being a landing- 
place in the descent, having on the one hand the wall of 
solid earth, on the other the fearful void of the Abyss. 

Circle I. is ^Limbo, the habitation of two classes of the 
Unbaptized : Infants who have died too young for actual 
sin, and such Non-believers of every age and clime as, 
being in invincible ignorance, have ruled their lives by the 
law of conscience, or have signally benefited mankind. A 
third class was once there too the holy Souls of the chosen 

46 Circle I. : Limbo. 

nation, who had passed from life in faith in Christ to come, 
and whom He liberated at His triumphal Descent. 

The denizens of Limbo, free from outward inflictions, 
express by plaints which are only sighs a pain which is 
only longing : but that hopeless longing is for the Face of 
God, and that aching pain is the ' pain of loss,' and those 
ceaseless sighs make the still air tremble into the eternal 
breeze that constitutes the atmosphere of this thick spirit- 
wesd. Not far down in the descent, amid the gloom, shines 
a luminous spot, where stands a noble castle guarded by 
sevenfold high walls, entered by sevenfold gates, entrenched 
by a fair stream, and enclosing a meadow of fresh verdure : 
for even on unchristened man shines the light of brighter 
Intellect irradiating the deeper shades; and Virtue with 
Wisdom builds up a strong and noble habitation for the 
heroic and philosophic soul; and the Seven Virtues are 
high, guarding the Reason and the Will; and the Seven 
Sciences give entrance into the inner places of Knowledge ; 
and Education affords the stream of passage from without, 
while within the formed mind and character repose in free- 
dom and refreshment. This castle is the utmost pointy of 
attainment for non-believers ; here abide their heroes and 
heroines, the great ones of their active life ; here too, and 
in somewhat more exalted place, their poets and sages, 
the great ones of their contemplative life. Consciously 
as locally suspended between reward and punishment, 
balked and baffled in their whole nature for lack of that 
which is above nature, keenly sensitive to every wounding 
token of their separation from the Blessed; thirsting still 
for the perfect knowledge they thirsted for on earth, and 
knowing they must forever thirst in vain ; desiring without 

Minos. Th ree Classes of Sins. Incon tinence. 4 7 

hope that Supreme Good of which they can form higher 
conceptions than can their fellow-prisoners, yet too self- 
controlled, as it would seem, to sigh their atmosphere out 
of its perfect stillness ; in countenance neither sad nor glad, 
but of great authority; slow and grave in gaze, uttering 
rare speech with modulated voice ; retaining the tender 
affections of their earthly state, and some at least com- 
passionating in all the void with which each and all are 
aching, these God-sick dwellers on the edge of the ' great 
gulf fixed ' pine on and on eternally, conscious of every 
natural endowment of kings and priests in the Heavenly 
City, but wanting alike the anointing oil of grace and the 
crown of glory. 

At the entrance of the Second ^Circle sits another dae- 
monic personage the infernal Judge_ Minos. All those 
who, having passed Acheron, stop ..notshort in Limbo, 
stand in turn before him to confess their sins, and he, 
discerning to which of the eight penal Circles each Soul 

Girds himself with his tail as many times 
As he resolves that she be lowered grades. 

V. 11-12. 

In these eight Circles we first note the three great 
classes into which Dante, following Aristotle in names, 
though not altogether in their application, divides sins ; 
viz., Incontinence, Bestialism, and Malice. Incontinence 
is want of self-control; the sins which proceed from it, 
and which are punished in the Second, Third, Fourth, 
and Fifth Circle respectively, are Lasciviousness, Gluttony, 
Avarice with Prodigality, Anger with Melancholy. Bestial- 
ism, punished in the Sixth Circle, and in strict accordance 

48 Bestialism. Malice : Violence. 

with the meaning of the Italian word bestialitade charac- 
terized by Dante as besotted, comprises Infidelity and 
Heresy in all their forms ; the most prominent form being 
that Materialism whereof our author says in his Convito, 
'Among all bestialisms (i.e., follies) that is most stupid, 
most vile, and most hurtful by which any believes, after 
this life no other life to be ; inasmuch as if we turn over all 
the writings as well of philosophers as of other wise writers, 
all agree in this, that in us is some part perpetual.' 1 

Malice works others woe either by Violence or by Fraud. 
And here lest my reader should echo Dante's perplexity at 
Virgil's statement I had better premise that some sins of 
Malice will appear nearly identical with some of Inconti- 
nence ; but in each such case the moral difference between 
sins of passion and surprise, and sins of wilfulness, delibe- 
ration and depravity, must be taken for granted. 

Violence is punished in the Seventh Circle according to 
a threefold classification of sinners against their neighbor, 
themselves, or their God. Further subdivisions distinguish 
slayers or injurers of person from robbers, wasters, or de- 
stroyers of property ; and offenders against the Sacred Per- 
son of. God by blasphemy, from offenders against the things 
of God, i.e., Nature and Art. For as Nature is God's daugh- 
ter and disciple, so Art, her child and follower, must needs 
be His granddaughter and sub-disciple. The offence 
against Art is Usury God's sentence being that man shall 
eat bread in the sweat of his brow, i.e., shall by labor of 
head and hand utilize natural resources ; whereas the usurer, 
a mere parasite, derives nourishment from toils he never 
shares, and from supplies to which he adds nothing. 

1 Conv. ii. 9. 

Fraud. Two Points. Circle II. Lascivious. 49 

Fraud alone remains to be treated of in its surpassing 
heinousness as the abuse of man's peculiar and noblest gift 
of Reason, and in its yet more minute and perplexing clas- 
sification. Its main distinction is that which assigns to the 
Eighth Circle ten subdivisions of the simply Fraudulent, 
who, by deceiving such as had no special reason for trusting 
them, have broken only the bond of love uniting all men 
as sharers in a common nature ; and to the Ninth Circle 
four subdivisions of the Treacherous, who, by betraying 
their kindred, country, friends, or beneficent lords, have 
broken the closer bond of natural love intertwined with 
special faith. 

Two more points should be premised with regard to all 
the reprobate. First, that after the Resurrection of the 
Body their sufferings will increase, inasmuch as sensitive- 
ness to good and evil is in proportion to the perfection of 
him who experiences either; and though sin be essential 
imperfection, yet the risen sinner will be so far perfect as 
to possess both the parts which constitute man. And 
secondly, that Dante supposes them to have some knowledge 
of future events in this world, but not of present unless in- 
formed from without ; whence it follows that all their knowl- 
edge will become extinct from that hour in which the door 
of the future shall be shut. 

Having taken this general survey we proceed to particu- 

Incontinence, as we have seen, is want of self-restraint, 
and is the principle of the sins for which four, or perhaps 
more correctly six, classes of transgressors suffer in four 
successive Circles. 

In Circle II., the prison of the Lascivious, begins the 


50 Circle III. Gluttons : IV. Money -sinners. 

outer darkness of Hell and the ' pain _Q f .sense.' Here they 
whose passions have sown the wind reap the roaring whirl- 
wind, and utter most piercing shrieks of terror as ever and 
anon they are blown to the very edge of the yawning 

Circle^ Til, is a climate of cold, heavy, dirty-looking, 
stench-exhaling, cHangeless rain and hail and snow, pour- 
ing down in ceaseless torrents on the prostrate Gluttons, 
whose god was their belly, and who, now and to all Eter- 
nity the prey of a sort of personified belly, the demon 
f iCerberus, are devoured by his teeth, rent by his claws, and 
deafened by his barking. 

Dante's view of Usury will have prepared us to find that 
he regards all misusers of money, whether hoarders or 
wasters, as special ignorers of social obligation and breakers 
of social order. Consequently, in the various Circles 
wherein they are located, one punishment is of continual 
recurrence made in some way invisible or unrecognizable, 
they are cut off from society. In Circle IV., the realm of the 
demon Plutus, are seen but not known a vast multitude of 
the two least guilty classes of money-sinners : Misers who 
placed their happiness in gold, and who will rise from the 
dead with clenched fists ; Spendthrifts who placed theirs in 
what gold will buy, and who will rise with close-cropped 
hair. (An Italian proverb says of such, ' darebbe tutto fino ai 
capelli ' = ( He would lavish all, to his very hair.') x The two 
bands forever crawl in opposite directions half-way round 
their dungeon, howling as they impel before them weighty 
masses which at each recurring meeting clash in infernal 
harmony with their mutual revilings. 

1 G. Rossetti, Com. An. vol. i. c. vii. t. 19. 

Circle V. Wrathful and Melancholy. 5 1 

Circle V., the domain of the demon Phlegyas, is the 
muddy and putrid ^River__Styx^= Hatred, Sadness, which, 
flowing from the brazen middle of Saturn, and here forcing 
its way through the wall of Heli, harbors the Wrathful = 
fracondi, and the Melancholy = Aaidiosi : two classes who 
seem at first sight to have little in common. S. John the 
Damascene however speaks of Ira as ' a kindling of the 
blood surrounding the heart, through the vapor ation of 
the gall ; ' while S. Thomas Aquinas attributes Accidia 
to 'sad and melancholy vaporations ;' hence probably their 
combination by Dante under like punishment by putrid 
fumes. The question is farther complicated by Accidia = 
Melancholy, being in Italian identified with the deadly sin 
of Sloth, and defined by theologians as ' a certain sadness 
which weighs down the spirit of man in such wise that there is 
nothing he likes to do ; wherefore accidia implies a certain 
tedium : ' 1 ' a sadness of the mind which weighs upon the 
spirit, so that the person conceives no will towards well- 
doing, but rather feels it irksome.' 2 Dante in the Purga- 
torio, as we shall hereafter find, dwells on the sluggish, as 
here in the Inferno on the gloomy, aspect of the sin. And 
as he punishes lower down, in the Circle of the Violent, not 
only suicides as corresponding to murderers, but as corre- 
sponding to robbers those spendthrifts and gamblers who 
have wantonly and obstinately reduced themselves to weep 
where they were meant to be joyous, so he here punishes 
with the wrathful enemies of others' peace and happiness the 
melancholy enemies of their own. These, imbedded in the 
very dregs of the pool, bewail eternally the absence of those 
cheering influences of Nature by which they sometime re- 

1 Maestruzzo. 2 Tratt. Pecc. Mort. 

52 Wherein Meekness consists. 

fused to be cheered : while those, partly emerging above 
its surface, rend and defile each other and themselves after 
death, as once in life. It is farther noteworthy that both in 
the Inferno and in the Purgatorio the Meekness contrary to 
the sin of Anger is in practice set forth far less as the un- 
r^sjstjpg--GeJItleness_which endures^ey^ than as the righteous 
Indignation^-whidi^iejjels^it. For in the Convito, Dante, 
defining Virtue in general as 'an elective habit consisting 
in the mean,' lays down that Meekness l moderates our 
anger and our too great patience against our exterior ills : ' 1 
herein following his master Ser Brunetto, who thus speaks : 
1 He that is truly meek 2 is angry whereat he ought, and 
with whom, and as much as, and as, and when, and 
where. He is wrathful 3 that passes the mean in these 
things, and forthwith rushes into Anger. The wrathless 4 
is he that is not angry where it behooves, and when, and 
as much as, and with whom, and as ; and he is not to be 
praised.' 5 It is extremely probable that the Accidiosi at 
the bottom of Styx while on earth partook largely of such 
Wrathlessness, supinely wretched for want of that measured 
Resentment which, stopping short of revenge, would yet 
have remedied mischief. 6 

So far Incontinence, which gradually but surely besotting 
the Understanding and perverting the Will, at length brings 
to pass that men do not like to retain God in their knowl- 
edge, nor to look forward to the Judgment after death ; 
and so depraves them into that Bestialism which seems to 
correspond to the Folly of Holy Writ. By it the fool 

1 Convito iv. 17. 2 Mansueto. 3 Iracondo. 

4 Inrascibile. 5 Tesoro vi. 21. 

6 G. Rossetti, Comento Analitico, Riflessioni sul c. vii. 

Circle VI. Infidelity and Heresy. 53 

saith in .his heart, ' There is no God,' denying Him in 
Whose Image he was made ; by it he mentally remakes 
himself in the image of the beasts that perish. Therefore 
after the lesser inflictions of Uer_Hell, the region of \ 
throuh the four "Circles of the Inconti- 

nent, come the torments of Nether Hell, the region of ; 
(darknessjmd of fire^; that fire being, in every instance but [ 
one, the peculiar punishment of such as have dared come 
into direct collision with Him Who is a Consuming Fire, 
even the Jealous God. It first burns in the one appalling 
Circle of the Bestialized Circle_JVl : ,jth^ a 

fortified cemetery whose turrets and walls, garrisoned by 
demons and guarded by Furies^jiefend no houses, but keep 
under closest watch and ward tombs red-heated by creeping 
flames tombs of souls buried everlastingly, like with like, 
for the Infidelity which disbelieved their God's existence 
and their own, or for the Heresy which declared their God 
other than He has revealed Himself to be. Open as yet, 
' these tombs will all be closed over the re-embodied souls 
after the Judgment Day. 

As Incontinence degrades the soul towards Bestialism, so 
Bestialism hems it round in Malice. He indeed is the fool 
of fools who saith, ' There is no God ; ' but he too is a fool 
who, saying, 'Tush, the Lord shall not see,' goes on to 
annul his Reason by brutish Violence, or to abuse it by 
worse than brutish Fraud. Consequently the three remain- 
ing Circles, though sunk to a far lower level., are accounted 
withnTthe Red City of Dis, and are under the guard of its 
fortified enclosure. Its central Void, exhaling the intoler- 
able stench of deadliest sin, is the brute-dernor^^inotaur^ 

54 Circle VII. Violence, 3 classes. 

prowling-field ; in depth ever a fearful chasm, in character 
a broken and precipitous landslip from the hour when the 
earthquake at the Crucifixion, felt throughout the Abyss, 
left its special and tremendous mark on the prison-houses 
of the Violence and Fraud which had culminated in 

At the foot of this chasm spreads Circle VIJ^. JheJHel^of 
Violence, divided into three concentric rings. Ring i, the 
outermost, is the boiling Blood-rjyer_ffilegetriori^= Burning, 
issuing from Saturn's iron limbs. Herein stand, at a greater 
or less depth according to the degree of their guilt, the 
Violent against their Neighbor's person or property : /.<?., 
Tyrants, Murderers, and Marauders. Their demon-gaolers 
are the Centaurs, whose arrows keep them down to the pre- 
scribed depth. Within the circuit of the Blood-river lies 
Ring 2, the Dolorous Wood, prison and population all in 
one. For its poison-trees are SmcideSj_ degraded from 
animal to vegetable bodies, tortured by Harpies, who 
pluck and eat their leaves, and alone of all the lost doomed 
after the Judgment Day not to resume their self- despoiled 
garment of flesh, but hang it on a branch. All about the 
Wood wanton Spendthrifts and destroyers of their own 
goods, in utter nakedness, are hunted and rent piecemeal 
by demon hounds. Phlegethon, here flowing unseen be- 
neath the soil, reappears at the edge of this grim garland 
to traverse its enclosure, Ring 3, a scorched and scorching 
Sand-Waste lying under a rain of fire-flakes. And here a 
very curious question presents itself. In the second Can- 
zone of the Convito, Dante thus speaks of Philosophy, 
whom he calls his Lady : 

The Fire-rain of Ea 

Her beauty raineth down flamelets of fire, 
Animate with a noble gracious spirit, 
Which is creator of each virtuous thought ; 
These break like thunderbolts 
The innate vices which make any vile. 

And he thus comments on his own words : ' It is to be 
known that morality is the beauty of Philosophy : for as the 
beauty of the body results from the limbs, in so far as they 
are duly ordered ; so the beauty of wisdom, which is the 
body of Philosophy, as is said, results from the order of the 
moral virtues, which cause that [wisdom] to please sensibly. 
And therefore I say that her beauty, that is morality, rains 
flamelets of fire, that is right appetite, which is generated 
in the pleasure of moral doctrine ; which appetite separates 
us even from our natural vices, much more from others. 
And hence springs that happiness, which Aristotle defines 
in the first of the Ethics, saying that it is action according 
to virtue in a perfect life.' 1 One cannot help asking, Is 
there a subtle connection between these two fire-rains? 
Philosophy, defined as ' a loving use of wisdom/ is said to 
be ' chiefly in God ; ' 2 and this Third Ring hems in the 
special violators of the Divine Majesty in His Sacred 
Person, in His child Nature, and in His grandchild Art. 
Has that disregarded rain, which welcomed into these Souls 
on earth would have separated them from their sin, at 
length penetrated within the earth to punish them and their 
now eternally inseparable sin together ? However this may 
be, we certainly see here, as elsewhere, sinners against God 
under burning torment, endured by Blasphemers supine, as 
experiencing in the utmost possible degree that the God 

1 Conv. iii. 15. 2 Ib. iii. 12. 

56 Circle VIII. Fraud. Pit i, 2, 3. 

Who answereth by fire is God indeed ; by breakers of His 
laws in Nature walking compulsorily, under a severe penalty 
if they stop ; by breakers of His laws in Art seated. These 
last, the Usurers, as money- sinners, are not recognized by 
personal semblance, and as quasi-fraudulent are located 
next to the central Void, here again of appalling depth, with 
Phlegethon for its rock-cascade till the stream disappears 
once more under the next landing-place. The demon of 
this passage is Geryon, a winged monster of human face 
and serpent trunk apt type and embodiment of Fraud. ' 

^Circle VI IL, Evilpits, is the Hell of Fraud Simple, /. <?., 
Fraud against those who have no special ground of trust in 
their deceiver. Its form, implied in its name, is that of a 
series of circular concentric fosses separated by walls, the 
outermost wall being of course the solid earth; and con- 
nected by a chain of rock-bridges running all across from 
wall-top to wall-top, till cut short by the central Void. 
The whole is of a livid stone-color, and lies on the slope : 
the punishment of Fraud in dungeons thus constructed 
corresponding to the hidden and lurking character of the 

In Pit i, Deceivers of women are scourged by demons. 
Pit 2 is a cesspool in which Flatterers are sunk and choked ; 
for 'that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a 
man.' x Pit 3, the tomb of Simoniacs, is perforated through- 
out bottom and sides with round holes, ' purses ' in which 
these money-sinners are imbursed from sight, head down- 
ward and within the earth, while their feet writhe without, 
licked by the fire which torments offenders directly against 
God. It is singular that this fire is not in each case 

1 S. Matt. xv. ii. 

Circle VIII. Fraud. Pit 4, 5, 6. 57 

eternal; as one simoniacal Pope drops upon another in 
their special purse, the predecessor sinks wholly within the 
rock, and the flame is transferred to the successor. 1 Pit 4 
is ceaselessly perambulated by Diviners, Sorcerers, and 
Witches, with heads twisted round upon their necks, so as 
to look eternally backward for having sought to look too 
forward. Dante seems, however, to condemn them even 
more as. jmpostors than as presumptuous searchers into the 
secret things of God. gjT^) is^a lakg f)f hoi'l^g pitahj 
wherein are submerged Barterers of justice, office, etc., who 
on earth found money stick to their hands. They are 
under the guard of a troop of peculiarly lying and spiteful 
demons with personal and significant names, but classed 
together as Evilclaws, who tear them piecemeal with prongs 
if they appear above the surface. Pit 6 lodges the college 
of Hypocrites, toiling along under the owerwhelming weight 
of leaden cloaks and hoods, dazzlingly gilt without. But 
the Arch- hypocrites of all time Caiaphas, Annas, and the 
rest of the Council that condemned our Blessed Lord lie 
athwart the way, impaled naked in the form of a cross ; 
trampled on by each walker in succession, and so crushed, 
not by one leaden mantle, but by as many as the Pit con- 
tains. Most just and terrible retribution, that the rejectors 
at once and instruments of the One Sacrifice for the sins of 
the whole world should thus sensibly and visibly bear the 
eternal burden of others' sin and pain as well as of their 
own.. Over this Pit the bridge is broken, and lies a heap 
of fragments at the bottom ; this being the second special 
point at which the earthquake at the Crucifixion took 
permanent effect. Pit 7, the dungeon of Thieves, swarms 

1 G. Rossetti, Com. An. vol. ii. c. xix. t. 22. 

58 Circle VIII. Fraud. Pit 7, 8, 9, 10. 

with a loathsome agglomerate of naked men and serpents ; 
the serpents stinging, the men stung, and each thus alter- 
nately transforming and transformed into, the joth^r; by a 
hideous community, not of property only, but of person, 
'annihilating the distinction between meum and tuum.' 1 
Pit 8 presents the sole instance of a sin not directly against 
God avenged by burning. It is the furnace of Evil Coun- 
sellors, whose tongue, a little member set on fire of Hell 
while yet on earth, has covertly kindled a great matter, yea 
has set on fire the course of Nature ; and who here find 
how fearful a covering they have all the while been weaving 
for themselves, even a tongue-shaped winding-sheet of fire 
unquenchable. Yet they retain a ghastly power of move- 
ment and of speech, the tongue within actuating the flame- 
tongue without. Pit 9 is the shambles where Schismatics 
and Discord-breeders are cleft by a sword-bearing Devil : 
he stationary at a fixed point, they constrained to pace ever 
round and round; each time reaching the point whole, 
each time starting from it hacked and mutilated afresh. 
Pit 10 is the lazar-house of Falsifiers, sick of various dis- 
eases, and so falsified in appearance and condition. 2 They 
are divided into three classes, according as they have sinned 
in respect of Substance, of Semblance, or of Fact. The 
Falsifiers of Substance are Alchemists blotched with leprosy, 
and Coiners bloated with dropsy. The Falsifiers of Sem- 
blance are counterfeiters of the person of another for some 
evil end : these are out of their mind (Itd.fuor di se = out 
of self)? The Falsifiers of Fact are malicious Liars, fever- 
stricken and prostrate. And some are instruments of further 

1 \V. M. Rossetti, Trans. Hell, Gen. Exp. p. xxx. 

2 Cayley, Notes, p. 109. 8 W. M. R. p. xxxii. 

Well of Giants. Circle IX. Treachery. 59 

suffering to others the sick by brawling and blows, the 
mad by rabid biting. 

We have reached the last portion of the central Void, 
the Well of the Primaeval Giants. Its denizens are the 
Nimrod of Holy Scripture, and the Titans and other Giants 
of classic fable. Their height may be computed at about 
seventy feet ; their intellect, speech, power, and freedom 
are curtailed in inverse proportion. Their position as in 
some sort demon-sentinels over the entire region of the 
Fraudulent for their heads tower high over the brink of 
Evilpits, while their feet rest on the frozen bottom of the 
Abyss forcibly suggests the retribution slowly but surely 
dogging the steps of Fraud as the destroyer of the mutual 
trust on which society is based ; namely, relapse into that 
savagery wherein brute force reigns supreme. 

And finally we touch Circle IX., the pool<Cocytus ;t Wail- 
ing, formed by the coalition of the" three rivers af the point 
where stagnancy must needs ensue from the non-efxistence 
of any lower level. But no mere stagnancy : Cocytus is as 
fast bound in frost as are the affections of the Traitors 
therein locked up. Lying like Evilpits on the slope, it is 
rather a basin than a plam^oXice ; and subdivides into four 
Belts, distinguishable only by the position of its captives. 
Belt i is Caina ; here Betrayers of their Kindred are im- 
mersed up to the neck. Belt 2 is Antenora, named from 
the Trojan Antenor, who according to one author betrayed 
Troy; here Betrayers of their Country are immersed up 
to the throat. Belt 3 is Ptolemaea, named from Ptolemy 
the Younger who betrayed Pompey ; here Betrayers of their 
Friends and Guests are fixed, not as the others, who can 
hide their faces by bending them downwards, but supine, 

60 Lucifer. 

facjMrjDw_ards . an( j ^ e u tter baseness of the sin further sub- 
jects the soul committing it to instant reprobation in this 
lowest pit, the body informed by a devil still lingering on 
earth till the appointed term of life is expired. Lastly, Belt 
4 is JudecSh; here JBetrayers of their Beneficent Lords. 
whollyim5edded in varying postures, show . thnjugh the ice 
like straws jirijjlass. Three of these Traitors however are 
excepted, as we shall see ere long. 

For lo, the bottom of the Bottomless Pit : What, who 
is there ? 

Lucifer onee^is now> physically as morally self-centred : 
half above the ice and half below it, so that his middle cor- 
responds to the precise centre of gravity. How colossal his 
frame we may faintly image when we learn that an ordi- 
nary stature more nearly approaches the seventy feet of the 
Giants in the Well than those seventy feet the length of his 
jirms. But his ingratitude is past estimation, past imagi- 
nation, all but infinite : nay, in a true sense, infinite for 
though he be but a creature, and so finite, and though he 
were originally endowed, as Dante thinks, with the highest 
of all creatures' gifts, and so his endowments were^rimte 
too, yet He Who created him for Himself is Infinite, and 
the rejection of the Infinite must needs have a character of 
infinity. Wherefore as by the benefit is estimated the in- 
gratitude, so by the effect of that ingratitude in present 
hideousness the pristine beauty; and if such were indeed 
the pristine beauty, and he who was graced therewith yet 
rebelled against his Creator and Adorner, duly is he forever 
the summit and the source of mourning. His head is 
triple-faced the front face ruddy, the right-shoulder face 
yellowish, the left black ; in symbol of his dominion over 

The bowels of the Western hemisphere. 61 

all reprobates from the three parts of the world, the com- 
plexions being respectively those of Europe, Asia, and 
Africa. Beneath each face protrude two monstrous bat- 
wings, whose flapping creates the wind to freeze Cocytus. 
In the three mouths are the three excepted Traitors 
Judas Iscariot, Marcus Brutus, Cassius ; the first in the 
front mouth, less tormented by the teeth than by the hor- 
rible claws which tear him alone, and so punished far more 
than the other two, here classed with him as being traitors 
against what Dante regarded as the most sacred Will and 
Law of the Almighty, the establishment of the Roman 

What yet remains? Not Hell, but Earth; the bowels 
of the Western hemisphere. Beyond the centre of gravity 
there is r>njru? r f gru'ngjriown. ^butjip. head skywards.) Half 
Lucifer's body indeed, reversed in posture, pollutes this 
hemisphere, but, colossal as it is, it is quickly left behind ; 
- there is a down-flowing stream, but it can scarcely be 
formed of matter more virulent than the tears of contrition 
shed by the already half-beatified tenants of Purgatory ; for 
all sorrow, pure and purifying though it be, is yet in a sense 
of the earth, earthy, and so tends to the centre of gravity. 1 
Earth's bowels are dark, but afford a way to the light ; the 

1 G. Rossetti, Com, An. c. xxxiv. t. 44. My theory, wholly sug- 
gested by my father's, is yet not absolutely identical with his. He 
thinks that ' whatever sinfulness is expiated in Purgatory flows down 
and settles in the kingdom of sin.' I am inclined rather to suppose 
the stream to consist of "the tears of expiation; the matter flowing 
from Saturn to form the four great infernal rivers being unquestionably 
tears, but tears of shame and mere human sorrow. 

62 The grotesque element in the Hell. 

upward path is rough, but issues in the boundless Ocean, 
the reedy shore, the free air, the stars that gladden, and the 
Mount that cleanses. 

Some there are who, gazing upon Dante's Hell mainly 
with their own eyes, are startled by the grotesque element 
traceable throughout the Cantica as a whole, and shocked 
at the even ludicrous tone of not a few of its parts. Others 
seek rather to gaze on Dante's Hell with Dante's eyes; 
these discern in that grotesqueness a realized horror, in that 
ludicrousness a sovereign contempt of evil. They keep in 
mind that the mediaeval tone of thought bore fruit in the 
grotesque heads of the lost, outside cathedrals, and in a 
spiritual humorousness which was by no" means excluded 
even from sermons ; yea, much more do they remember 
that the Divine Eternal Wisdom Himself, the Very and 
Infallible Truth, has, not once nor twice, characterized 
impiety and sin as Folly ; and they feel in the depths 
of the nature wherewith He has created them that what- 
ever else Folly may be and is, it is none the less essentially 
monstrous and ridiculous. In this world of shadows they 
see it so, in that world of substances they imagine no cause 
why it should cease to be so ; nay why, amid the disen- 
chantments of that atmosphere of Truth, it should not 
rather be discerned as more so. A sense of the utter degra- 
dation, loathsomeness, despicableness of the soul which by 
deadly sin besots Reason and enslaves Free Will passes 
from the Poet's mind into theirs ; while the ghastly definite- 
ness and adaptation of the punishments enables them to 

D antes loathing of evil 6 3 

touch with their finger the awful possibility and actuality of 
the Second Death, and thus for themselves as for others to 
dread it more really, to deprecate it more intensely. Dante's 
Lucifer does appear ' less than Archangel ruined,' immeas- 
urably less; for he appears Seraph wilfully fallen. No 
illusive splendor is here to dazzle eye and mind into sym- 
pathy with rebellious pride ; no vagueness to shroud in 
mist things fearful or things abominable. Dante's Devils 
are hateful and hated, Dante's reprobates loathsome and 
loathed, despicable and despised, or at best miserable 
and commiserated. In t^ie_one solitary instance of Fran- 
cesca da Rimini an unheedful reader might possibly sup- 
pose the Poet to sympathize with lawless love ; but a 
careful student will discern abhorrence of moral corruption 
combined with compassion for sore temptation and griev- 
ous suffering. If, in a few other exceptional cases, noble- 
ness of character yet hangs about any of the lost, it is in 
points wholly distinct from the sin which has been their 

destruction. Dante is guiltless of seducing any soul of man 
towards making or calling Evil his Good. 


O tu die se' per quest' Inferno tratto. 

O thou that art conducted through this Hell. 

Inf. vi. 40. 

WE left Dante at the moment when Virgil's cheering 
speech had given him courage to enter on the 
eternal world. The awful inscription over the Gate of 
Hell, seeming to deny him hope, did indeed wellnigh 
drive him back again ; but a further word and touch 
nerved him for the first sounds that struck upon his ear 
the wailings of the Neutrals in the Ante-Hell : 

Here lamentations, sighs, and strident howls, 
Resounded through the air without a star 
Whence I, at the beginning, wept thereat. 
Differing tongues and horrid utterances, 
And words of anguish and the tones of rage, 
High and hoarse voices, and with them a sound 
Of hands, a tumult made which circulates 
Aye in that air without a season dyed, 
Like to the sand whenas the whirlwind blows. 

Inf. in. 22-30. 

Instructed by Virgil, Dante, refraining from the full grati- 
fication of his curiosity respecting these miserable caitiffs, 
lest he should mitigate their sentence of hopeless obscurity, 

Dante crosses Acheron into Limbo. 65 

transferred his attention to the crowd gathering on the 
brink of Acheron. Charon at first, seeing a living man, and 
knowing him to be predestined to glory, commanded him 
to withdraw from among the dead ; but Virgil had instant 
recourse to a formula often needed and often in substance 
repeated during this grisly descent : 

So is it willed there where 's the power to do 
That which is willed ; and thou demand no more. 

in. 95, 96. 

The boat then crossed with its mournful freight, Dante 
remaining behind to be first enlightened and comforted 
by his Master's explanation of the scene he had witnessed, 
and of the true ground of Charon's refusal to ferry him 
over ; then to feel the dark tear- soaked champaign quake 
under his feet, and in a state of insensibility to be trans- 
ferred, how he knew not, to the farther shore. His first 
consciousness was of impenetrable mist, his second of 
Virgil's sympathetic pallor, his third of the ceaseless sighs 
which, proceeding from the vast multitudes of both sexes 
and all ages that people Limbo, stir brooding stillness into 
tremulous breeze. 

Said the good lord to me : ' Thou askest not 
What Spirits may be these whom thou dost see ? 
I will now, ere thou goest on, thou know 
They did not sin : and, if they had good works, 
'T is not enough, for baptism they had not, 
The door unto the faith which thou believ'st : 
And, if they were before Christianity, 
They did not adequately worship God : 
And even of these same am I myself. 
For such defaults, and not for other guilt, 

66 Our Lord's descent into Hell. 

We're lost, and only are by thus much pained 
That in desire we live, but not in hope.' 

Great grief, when I had heard him, took my heart, 
Because I knew that people of much worth 
Must be suspended in the limbo there. 

' Do thou, my master, tell me tell me, lord ' 

Began I, for that I might so be sure 

About that faith which conquers error quite, 

' Went any ever hence, or by his own 

Or other's merit, who was after blessed ? ' 

And he, who understood my covert speech, 

Replied : ' In this condition I was new 

When hither I saw come One Powerful 

Incoronate with sign of victory. 

He took from us the Primal Parent's Shade, 

Abel his son's, and that of Noah too, 

Of Moses, legist and obedient, 

Abraham patriarch, and David king, 

Israel, with his father and his sons, 

And Rachel, her for whom he did so much ; 

And others many : and He made them blessed. 

And I would have thee know that, before them, 

There had not been a human spirit saved.' 

iv. 31-63. 

In prolonged converse Virgil and Dante passed through 
the wood of ghosts till they drew near the home of the more 
exalted Spirits ; and while Virgil was yet replying to his 
follower's eager question 

In the mean time a voice was heard by me : 
'The most high poet honor ye : his Shade, 
Which had departed, is returning now.' 

The School of Poets. 6 7 

Whenas the voice was quiet and at rest, 
I four great Shadows saw come unto us ; 
Semblance had they nor sorrowful nor glad. 

The noble master then began to say : 
' Him with that sword behold thou in his hand, 
Who comes, as it were sire, before the three : 
That one is Homer, poet sovereign. 
The other is Horace satirist who comes ; 
Ovid the third ; and Lucan is the last. 
Because that each one shares along with me 
In the same name the single voice did sound, 
They do me honor, and thereby do well.' 

Assembled thus the goodly school I saw 
Of him, the master x of the most high song, 
Who o'er the others like an eagle flies. 
When somewhat they together had discoursed, 
They turned to me with gesture of salute ; 
My master also smiling at the same. 
And more they did me honor yet by much ; 
For so they made me of their company 
That I became, 'mid so much mind, the sixth. 
Thus went we on as far as to the light, 
Conversing matters which to hush is good, 
As, where I was, the speaking them was so. 

iv. 79~ I0 5- 

After passing in review the dignified inhabitants of the 
Castle, and being permanently ennobled in his own eyes by 

1 ' It is questioned whether this " master " is Homer or Virgil. Chro- 
nology and modern appreciation would conclude for the first. If we 
consider the three companions of Homer to constitute the "school " to 
the exclusion of Virgil, we may do the same : scarcely otherwise from 
E ante's point of view.' 

68 Francesca da Rimini : Ciacco. 

the sight, he was led by another way back into the trem- 
bling atmosphere. Thence passing the demon Judge Minos, 
not unwarned by him, Dante found himself encompassed 
with the stormy howjjng^darkness of Circle IL^) Deep was 
his compassion as Virgil pointed out among the victims of 
TrUfr^llfirr^ rnany who had peopled his memory and 
imagination from childhood upwards Semiramis, Dido and 
Cleopatra, Helen and Achilles, Paris and Tristram. But 
worse was to come. For here suffered a friend's kins- 
woman,. Francesca da Rimini, coupled with Paolo Malatesta 
in the soul's death no less than in the body's. It is said 
that, deceived by her father, she had given hand and heart 
to this handsome accomplished youth, and all top late had 
found that he was but proxy for her real husband, his 
deformed and repulsive brother(Gianciotto!) As now, in a 
lull of the tempest, she told how the sin of an unguarded 
moment had been ays^g^~^y~^2^do^s_J^id f her 
words and her lover's tears affected . Dante to fainting; as 
one dead he fell to the earth, and^onjecovering conscious- 
ness found himself already in OrclelljJ) To Cerberus *s 
currish menaces Virgil deigned no reply save that of two 
handfuls of earth cast into his cavernous jaws; and the 
Poets walked on, placing their feet on the limp shades of 
the rain-drenched Gluttons. One of these, the Florentine 
Ciacco^ sitting up as he recognized a fellow-citizen, held 
detailed converse with him respecting public and private 
matters both past and future ; and excited his pity, though 
not beyond an inclination to tears. The colloquy was 
suddenly broken off by Ciacco losing the power of speech, 
and dropping back flat into the slush, to emerge thence no 
more till roused by the Last Trumpet. 

Discourse concerning Fortune. 69 

Having led his disciple, as always in Hell, towards the 
left along an arc equal to the ninth part of the Circle, 
on reaching the steps of descent Virgil had to repel the 
resistance of Plutus before entering on Circle (TVj Dante, 
feeling some slight pricks of compassion, inquired respect- 
ing its tenants, and expressed surprise at not recognizing 
any of the Misers and Spendthrifts he had known on earth. 
This phenomenon and the nature of their punishment being 
explained, Fortune and her dealings were thus discoursed 
of for his comfort under impending spoliation and banish- 
ment : 

' Thou now mayst see, my son, the transient puff 
Of goods which unto Fortune are consigned, 
For which the human race perturbs itself ; 
For all the gold that is beneath the moon, 
Or that once was, of these outweary souls 
Could not make any one of them to pause.' 

1 Master,' I said to him, 'now tell me still : 
This fortune, whereon thou dost touch to me, 
What is 't, that has the world's goods so in clutch ? ' 

And he to me : * How great that ignorance is, 

foolish creatures, which encumbers ye ! 

1 '11 have thee now digest my text thereof. 

The One Whose wisdom transcends everything 
He made the heavens, and gave them who conducts, 
So that to every part shines every part, 1 
Distributing the light coequally. 
Unto the mundane splendors He alike 
Ordained a general ministrant and chief, 

1 Every part of Heaven to every part of Earth. 

70 The bank of Styx. 

Who should in time the vain possessions change 
From race to race, from one to other blood, 
Beyond preclusion of the human wits ; 
Wherefore one people rules, one languishes, 
All in accordance to the doom of her, 
Which is occult, as in the grass the snake. 
To her your wisdom has no hindering : 
She doth provide, and judge, and prosecute 
Her reign, as even theirs the other gods. 
Her permutations have not any truce ; 
Necessity constrains her to be swift, 
So oft comes he who proves vicissitude. 
And this is she who 's put on cross so much 
Even by them who ought to give her praise, 
Giving her wrongly ill repute and blame. 
But she is blessed, and she hears not this : 
She, with the other primal creatures, glad 
Revolves her sphere, and blessed joys herself.' 

vii. 61-96. 

It was now past midnight ; and time pressed. The next 
descent described is not by steps, but by the slope down 
which Styx is flowing till it settles into the stagnant pool 
that constitutes Circle V., and serves for a moat to the 
fortified City of Dis. Here Dante saw the Wrathful tearing 
e^cji_oth^_rjiecemeal, and heard of the Melancholy buried 
in the black mud at thejaottom ; the only visible token of 
their presence being the bubbling caused on the surface by 
their sighs from beneath. The Poets, having walked along 
a considerable arc of the space left dry between the solid 
wall and the water, found themselves at last at the foot of 
a tower, a kind of outwork of Dis, which could only be 
reached by crossing the pool. Their gaze had already 

The passage towards the City of Dis. 71 

been attracted to the summit of this tower by the sudden 
appearance of two flames, the demon-sentinels within hav- 
ing taken them for condemned Souls who must be ferried 
over to their allotted prison, and having therefore signalled 
to certain comrades in Dis who counter-signalled by a third 
flame, on account of distance barely discernible to send 
the boat. It was soon seen almost flying towards them, 
steered by the dejiipjj^jDJl^^ who having in life 

vengefully burned the temple of Apollo, belongs to the 
Impious no less than to the Wrathful. Furiously he exulted 
in his supposed prey sorely was galled at learning his mis- 
take. He could not however avoid receiving into his 
boat these unexampled passengers, the one of whom actu- 
ally loaded it and depressed its prow. 

While we were running over the dead sluice, 

One did there get before me full of mud, 

And said : Who 'rt thou who com'st before the hour ? ' 

And I to him : I stay not, if I come : 
But who art thou, become so hideous ? ' 

* Thou seest,' he answered, ' that I 'm one which weep.' 

And I to him : 'With weeping and with grief, 
Accursed spirit, so continue thou ; 
For thee I know, all filthy as thou art.' 

He then upon the boat stretched both his hands : 
Wherefore the master pushed him dextrously, 
Saying : ' Away hence, with the other dogs ! ' 
He then embraced with both his arms my neck ; 
He kissed my face, and said : ' Indignant soul, 
Blessed the woman who with thee was big ! 

72 Filippo Argenti. 

This was a haughty person in the world ; J 
No good there is which decks his memory : 
Thus is bis spirit herein furious. 
How many hold them now aloft great kings 
Who here will have to be like pigs in slush, 
Of themselves leaving horrible misfame.' 

And I : ' My master, greatly fain I were 
To see him in a smother in this broth, 
Before that we shall issue from the lake.' 

And he unto me : * Ere the landing-place 
Shall let thee see it, thou 'It be satisfied : 
Such wish it will behoove that thou enjoy.* 

Soon after this, I saw that massacre 
Made, by the muddy people, of this man, 
That God I still do therefore praise and thank. 
* Upon Filippo Argenti ! ' all cried out : 
The uncouth spirit of the Florentine 
Turned with his teeth against himself himself. 

vin. 31-63- 

We really cannot help asking here, Is it possible to sym- 
pathize with this delight of the disciple, or this rewarding 
embrace of the Master ? Can that be purely righteous 
indignation which issues in conduct so much too like that 
of the offender himself ? 

By this time the Poets were near enough to Dis to per- 
ceive the sound of wailing and discern the mosque-shaped 
fire-reddened turrets; the pilot however had still to steer 
some way round before reaching the point of disembarka- 

1 ' Filippo Argenti, stated by Boccaccio to have been noted for bodily 
vigor and furious temper.' 

Demons and Furies oppose the Poets. 73 

tion. At the gates stood more than a thousand of those 
rebel Angels aforetime rained down from Heaven, now 
despitefully saying among themselves, ' Who is this that 
without death is going through the kingdom of the dead?' 
In reply, the guiding Sage indicated his wish for a private 
colloquy; this was granted, but with a threat of retaining 
him in the city while his pupil should retrace the way 
alone. Dante, utterly disheartened, adjured his only helper 
rather to relinquish the enterprise and instantly lead him 
back to the land of the living ; but the answer forbade fear, 
and enjoined assured confidence in the success of the God- 
granted pilgrimage. In most anxious suspense he now 
began to watch the parley he could not hear ; but anon 
the adverse demons hurried back into the fortress, shut- 
ting the door in his leader's face. Yet Virgil, grieved and 
humbled as he was, ceased not to infuse hope, grounded 
on the certainty that One without guide or escort was 
already traversing the Circles behind them to their aid 
thotfgh under the circumstances no entrance could be 
effected without wrath. 

And more he said : but I 've it not in mind ; 
Because I wholly had mine eye updrawn 
Toward the high turret with the red-hot top ; 
Where in an instant upright fast I saw 
Infernal Furies three, bedyed with blood, 
Who had their limbs and action feminine, 
And who with greenest hydras were engirt : 
They had small serpents for their hair, and asps, 
Wherewith the savage temples were imbound. 

And he, who well knew them the abject ones 
Unto the queen of the eternal plaint, 

74 The head of Gorgon displayed*. 

' Look,' said to me, ' the fierce Erinnyes. 

Megaera this one is upon the left ; 

That is Alecto on the right, who weeps ; 

P the midst Tisiphone : ' and here he stopped. 

Each one was harrowing with her nails her breast: 
They clashed their palms, and cried so loudly out, 
That to the poet I strained me, for dismay. 
' Let come Medusa ! So we '11 make him smalt,' 
They, looking downwards, uttered all of them : 
' On Theseus we revenged the assault not ill.' 1 

' Turn thyself back, and keep thy vision hid ; 
For, if the Gorgon show, and thou behold, 
J T would all be o'er with e'er returning up.' 
So did the master say ; and he himself 
Turned me, and to my own hands trusted not, 
But that with his too he should cover me. 
O you that have a sane intelligence, 
Look ye unto the doctrine which herein 
Conceals itself 'neath the strange verses' veil. 

And now was coming o'er the turbid waves 

A rumor of a sound replete with dread, 

Because of which the banks were trembling both; 

Not made in other wise than of a wind 

Impetuous by dint o' the adverse heats, 

Which smites the forest without any stay, 

Rends boughs, and beats them down, and bears along ; 

Dusty to vanward, on it goes superb, 

And makes the animals and shepherds flee. 

He loosed mine eyes, and said : ' Now turn the nerve 

1 ' When Theseus and Pirithous attempted to carry Proserpine off 
from Hell.' 


The Celestial Messenger 

Of vision up along that ancient foam, 
By yonder where that smoke is acridest.' 

Like as the frogs before the hostile snake 
Scud off along the water one and all, 
Until upon the soil each of them squats, 
I saw more than a thousand Souls destroyed 
Fly thus in front of one who at the ford 
Was passing over Styx with unwet soles. 
He from his face was moving that gross air, 
Plying the left hand oftentimes in front, 
And only with that anguish seemed he tired. 
I well perceived he was one sent from heaven, 
And to the master turned : and he made sign 
I should stay quiet, and to him should bow. 
Ah ! of disdain how full he to me seemed ! 
He reached the gate, and with a little wand 
Oped it, that there was no impediment. 

' O ye cast out of heaven, a refuse race,' 

Upon the horrible threshold he began, 

'Whence nurtureth in you this insolence ? 

Wherefore 'gainst that Volition do ye kick 

To which its end can never be curtailed, 

And which hath oft augmented pain to you ? 

What booteth it to butt against the fates ? 

Your Cerberus, if ye recollect it well, 

Keeps yet therefrom his chin and throttle peeled.' 

Then he turned back along the noisome path, 
And word to us spoke none ; but semblance made 
Of a man whom other care constrains and bites 
Than that of him who is before his face. 
And we toward the fortress moved our feet, 

Secure in sequel of the holy words. 

IX. 34-105. 

76 The entombed So^lls in Dis. 

Quite unopposed the Poets now entered Circle VI., the 
jT 1f y pf nig ; and Dante beheld it one vast burial-ground of 

Infidel and Heretical Souls, bristling with tombs like the 
cemeteries of Aries and Pola, but after a more bitter 
fashion, these tombs being all red-hot from the action of 
fires scattered up and down among them. Speaking the 
Tuscan dialect as he passed along, he heard himself called 
by a voice issuing from a sepulchre where lay more than a 
thousand Epicureans, among them the Emperor Frederick 
II. The voice was that of the noble Florentine Farmaia^- -> 
degli Uberti, who nearly five years before Dante's birth 
had as the Ghibelline leader defeated the Guelphs at 
Montaperti, had returned in triumph from banishment, and 
had then alone and successfully withstood his own party in 
their parricidal desire to destroy their native city. Long 
and deep was this patriot's converse with his fellow-citizen, 
soon like himself, as he plainly predicted, to be an exile, 
soon like his descendants, now in banishment, to experience 
the difficulty of returning. Once indeed the discourse was 
interrupted by Cavalcante de' Cavalcanti, buried in the same 
sepulchre, starting up to ask news of his son, Dante's 
His ignorance of the present, whereas Ciacco 

had known the future, 1 so perplexed his interlocutor as to 
delay the answer; and the miserable father, attributing 
this delay to unwillingness to tell him of his son's death, 
sank down again in sorest grief. Farinata then took up 
his own thread just where it had been broken off, and 
having subsequently explained the mystery of the knowledge 
of the lost, was intrusted with a message of information and 
comfort to his fellow-prisoner ; for Guido yet lived, though 
fated soon to die. 

1 See page 49. 

The Blood-River and the Dolorous Wood. 77 

The Poets, having _tra^ejrsej^he^_breadth of Pis, now 
stood on the edge of a kind of parapet guarding the central 
Voidf) The stench rising from the lower Circles was here 
so putrid as to compel them to seek temporary shelter 
behind a high tomb; and the consequent delay in their 
descent furnished opportunity for Virgil to instruct his pupil 
in that classification of sins under the heads of Inconti- 
nence. Bestialism. anr^ MaJirpj with which the reader is 
already familiar. 

Twent-twq_ hours had by this time elapsed since the 
opening of the poem twelve in the Wgoj^_ten_ Jn Hell ^ 
Good Friday was dawning on Earth, and further lingering 
might not be ; wherefore the Pilgrims commenced their 
frightful precipitous descent. The ^furious Minotaur beset 
their path, but only to be utterly contemned by Virgil, and 
by blind raging to afford Dante an opportunity of getting 
down unmolested till he stood close under the outer wall of 
Circle VII., and beheld the ghastly Blood-river Phlegethon, 
which forms its outmost Ring. His progress was opposed 
by the Centaur Nessusj but Virgil's appeal to Chiron, 
exempt by his birth and career on earth from the brute 
violence of his race, obtained the opponent for a guide. 
Many were the tyrants and blood- shedders of days recent 
or long, long gone by, pointed out in the deeps of the 
streams ; many indeed the petty oppressors and marauders 
recognized in its shallows. Where the feet only were cov- 
ered was the ford, over which Nessus carried Dante on his 
back, while Virgil cleft the air. They found themselves in 
the Dolorous Wood, pathless, thicker set than the Tuscan 
Maremma, itTTeaves dusky, its boughs knotty and twisted, 
its sole product poison- distilling thorns : harpies its nest- 

78 Pier delle Vigne and certain Spendthrifts. 

building birds, its music their meanings blended with those 
of the trees they prey upon. Virgil, desirous to undeceive 
his pupil of the imagination that these moans proceeded 
from persons hidden in the Wood, and also unable to re- 
sist the tempt^tiort tn qstafrlish as fact his own fiction of the 
bleeding of the myrtle into which folydorusJiad been^mpj^-. 
morphose^, suggested the plucking of a twig ; but instantly 
repented when blood sprang and sorest plaints issued from 
the wounded tree the prison-body of Pier delle Vigne, 
Chancellor to the Emperor Frederick II. Envv^Jjthe^ 
commoiL death _and vice : of jCp_urtS,' had fastened her eyes 
on this beloved and trusted counsellor till at length she 
succeeded in maligning him to the cruel Prince his mas- 
ter, by whom lie was condemned to a course of torture 
and ignominy, begun with blindness and destined to end in 
death. That 'end however came far sooner than was in- 
tended, for the victim himself dashed his head against his 
prison-wall. He now found some comfort in detailing his 
mournful history to such sympathizing listeners, while he 
far more briefly answered their inquiries respecting the 
state of the tree-bound Souls. The colloquy was at length 
suddenly broken off by the precipitous flight of two hound- 
hunted Shades of wanton, obstinate Spendthrifts, naked and 
thorn-scratched, through the Wood. The one, Lano, had 
rapidly wasted a rich patrimony, till at length, having fallen 
into an ambush, he desperately rushed among enemies 
from whom he might have escaped : the other, Jacopo di 
Sant' Andrea, is recorded to have thrown his money, coin 
by coin, into the river, by way of something to do; to 
have set alight his tenants' cottages as a bonfire-^to welcome 
his guests, and to have burned down his own magnificent 

The Sand- Waste : the Blasphemers. 79 

house in Padua as a spectacle to his fellow-citizens. This 
hunted madman squatted under a bush, but was none the 
less torn piecemeal by the hounds, the bush also coming in 
for its share of suffering. It incorporated an unnamed 
Florentine suicide, suspected by the commentators of hav- 
ing killed himself to escape the poverty surely coming 
upon a prodigal; and Dante, constrained by the love of 
their common birthplace, complied with his request to have 
his leaves gathered up and restored to him. Soon the 
Pilgrims found themselves on__the confines of the Sand- 
Waste, though still compelled to keep just within the Wood, 
to avoid the scathing of the fire-flakes and the scorching of 
the sand. Here among the supine Blasphemers they noted 
the untamable Capaneus ; then passing beyond him reached 
a spot where Dante descried, with a shudder renewed as in 
after years he wrote of it, Phlegethon reappearing as a 
boiling Blood-brook to traverse the desert plain. The 
stream having petrified its bed and banks, he perceived 
that there must lie the passage across ; yet lingered awhile 
to hear of the origin of the Infernal Rivers. He then 
followed his Guide along the stone embankment, the humid 
exhalation spreading wide enough to extinguish instantly 
whatever flames might fall upon it, and so preventing its 
becoming heated like the sand. Already had the Poets 
left the Wood too far behind to be discernible, when they 
fell in with a troop of Shades walking. One of these, for 
all the fire's scathing, was recognizable as Dante's old tutor. 
Brunetto Latini, eminent as politician, as philosopher, and 
as author of the encyclopaedic Tesoro and the allegorical 
Tesoretto. As no other contemporary record accuses him 
of any crime, it has been thought that olitical_ 

8o Geryon : the Usurers. 

may have led to his location here; especially as he is 
spoken of throughout the passage with tenderest reverence 
and love. Side by side for a time tutor and scholar walked 
and conversed, then once more parted company ; and after 
some further encounters the Pilgrims reached the point 
where Phlegeihon becomes an almost deafening torrent, 
rusliing down the central Void. Standing by its brink, 
Dante was commanded to loose his cord-girdle ; and Virgil, 
receiving it coiled, threw it down the precipice. Before 
long the loathsome appalling monster Geryon came up and 
landed his trunk on the stone dam, while his tail darted 
about, sting upwards, in the hollow. During the Master's 
parley with him, the disciple went alone to gaze upon the 
Usurers, who, seated along the edge of the sand, were fight- 
ing off the burning heat with their hands as best they might. 
Not one was recognized by his face, but heraldic bearings 
on purses hanging from their necks afforded a clew for their 
identification. These, bordering on Fraud both in offence 
and in place, are in tastes and manners the meanest sinners 
yet encountered : but plenty of their compeers will be met 
with below. Dante, content, as Virgil had counselled, with 
a passing glance at them, on retracing his few solitary steps 
found his Leader already seated on the foul monster's back, 
and with sinking heart and failing voice obeyed the order 
to mount in front, so as to be shielded from too probable 
Jtail-treachery. As soon as mounted he felt himself firmly 
embraced, and heard a charge given to Geryon to descend 
gradually, out of consideration for so unwonted a burden. 
The downward course accordingly proceeded so gently that 
the motion was rendered sensible only by the wind in the 
rider's face and beneath him ; but it was a sore trial to see 

Evilpits : Jason, Thais, Pope Nicholas III. 8 1 

nought save Geryon's form, hear nought save Phlegethon's 
gurgling and plunging, and when at last eye and ear sought 
to dive into the depth, perceive nought save fires and wail- 
ings. Both riders were finally set down close under the 
earth-wall ; the hateful beast shot away like an arrow from 
a bow ; and Evilpits lay before them. 

In Pijfjyhey beheld Jason scourged for his successive 
abandonment of Hypsipyle and Medea : in Pit^VHrhai's 
paying the penalty of her base flattery of Thraso. Into Pit 
''J'^pante, whose curiosity was excited by the exceptional 
sufferings of one of the imbursed Simoniacs, wished to 
descend. The descent, as in every subsequent instance 
save one, was effected by the Poets first crossing in its 
whole length the bridge spanning the pit, and by Virgil 
then carrying his pupil down as afterwards again up the 
inner wall, which in each pit offers a more gradual slope 
than the outer one. The tormented Soul proved to be that 
of Pope Nicholas III., of the Orsini family. In giving 
account of himself he severely reflected on the character 
of the actual Pope Boniface VIII.; 1 and foretold the far 
fouler deeds of Clement V., later to be raised to the 
Apostolic See through the intrigues of Philippe le Bel. 
Dante retorted with a strong condemnation of the worldli- 
ness.which had crept into the Church through the Donation 
of Constantine : and was then carried up again by his 
approving Master. From the bridge-top was seen, in Pit 4, 
a long, slow, silent, weeping procession of Soothsayers and 
Witches, with necks wrung so completely round that the 
tears streamed down their backs. Such utter degradation 

1 Dante's judgment on both Nicholas and Boniface is said to be more 
severe than that of other historians. (Venturi and Fraticelli, Inf. xix.) 


82 The Diviners and the Barterers. 

of the human image, borne by himself in common with these 
reprobates, struck to Dante's inmost soul : 

Certes I wept, leaning on one o' the crags 
Of the hard rock, so that mine escort said 
To me, 'Art thou too of the other fools ? 
Here, when 't is wholly dead, doth pity l live : 
For who can be more wicked than the man 
Who has a passion for God's judgeship ? ' 

xx. 25-30. 

After this gravest remonstrance tbe Master went on to 
point out certain diviners of antiquity, till from naming 
Manto he branched off into details concerning the origin of 
his own native city Mantua. These ended, the continuance 
of the procession brought under notice various mediaeval 
sorcerers, among whom occurs the familiar name of Michael 

Good Friday was over by this time, and the sun of Holy 
Saturday was rising on the Earth. Passing from bridge to 
bridge, the Poets discerned through the marvellous obscurity 
of Pit 5 the bubbling, swelling, and subsiding of the boiling 
Pitch-lake. Soon a black Devil was seen to run along the 
rocky chain, clenching the ankles of a Barterer slung across 
his shoulder. Hurled down into the pitch this sinner soon 
came up again, but was forthwith once more submerged by 
the prongs of the Evilclaws. Virgil, whose mind apparently 
misgave him that obstacles similar to those of Dis would 
here arise, enjoined his charge to squat down for conceal- 
ment behind a projecting edge of rock, while he himself 
should seek a parley. His first step on the partition-wall 

1 Pietb meaning both pity and piety, the sense of this line is : Here 
piety lives when pity is wholly dead. 

Virgil deceived by EviltaiL 83 

was the signal for a rush of prong-armed Evilclaws, who 
however at his request deputed their chief, Eviltail, to hear 

' Bad-tail, dost thou suppose thou seest me 
Having come hither,' so my master spoke, 
* Already safe from all defence of yours, 
Without divine command and favoring fate ? 
Let me proceed ; for it is willed in heaven 
I show another on this salvage road.' 

His pride was then so fallen that he let 
His hook down-tumble to his feet, and said 
Unto the rest : * Now let him not be struck.' 

And unto me my lord : * O thou who sitt'st 
Amid the bridge's boulders all asquat, 
Return thou to me now securely back.' 

Wherefore I moved, and quickly came to him ; 

And forward, all of them, the devils came, 

So that I feared they would not keep their pledge. 

And so erewhile I saw the soldiers fear 

Who covenanted from Caprona went, 

Seeing themselves amid so many foes. 1 

xxi. 79-96. 

So in fact it was ; the seeming prohibition was a mere 
trick, covertly conveying permission to wound him some- 
what later; and the disciple proved now far more alive 
than the Master to the impending danger. Eviltail lied on : 

1 ' Caprona, a Pisan fortress, having capitulated to the Guelph con- 
federates of Tuscany in 1290, the garrison filed out, when the hostile 
soldiers clamored (but only to frighten them) to have them hung. 
Dante is believed to have served among the victors.' 

84 Ten demons escort the Pilgrims. 

' 'T will not be possible to go 
Further along this rock, because that all 
The sixth arc 's lying at its bottom smashed ; 
And, onward if you still would please to wend, 
Go up then by this cavern : there is nigh 
Another rock, which makes a path along. 
Five hours more on than this is, yesterday, 
A thousand and two hundred sixty-six 
Years finished since the path was broken here. 
I 'm sending thither some of these of mine, 
To see if any airs himself therefrom : 
Go you with them, for they will not be froward.' 

xxi. 106-117. 

Then he thus charged the ten selected for this mission : 

' Search ye the boiling bird-lime roundabout. 
Let these as far as the next ledge be safe, 
Which goes on all entire above the dens.' 

xxi. 124-126. 

There was, in fact, no such line of bridges in existence, all 
those which once spanned Pit 6 lying broken at its bottom : 
and the fiends, well knowing this, indulged in an under- 
current of threatening gestures, not one of which was lost on 
Dante. He begged hard to be spared any save the wonted 
and trusty escort, but Virgil insisted that there was no 
danger, and they all started. 

With the ten demons we were going on 
Ah ! fell companionship ! But, in the church 
With saints, and with the gluttons at the inn. 

xxii. 13-15. 

On their way they saw seated on the brink the Shade of a 
former courtier of Theobald II., King of Navarre Ciampolo, 

The Hypocrites. 85 

whose words and acts presently disclosed how great an 
amount of trickery could be carried on by a Barterer even 
in Hell. Two of the Evilclaws, baffled in their expectation 
of tormenting him, at length fell foul of each other ; and 
while the whole troop were intent on the scuffle, the Pil- 
grims made good their escape down the partition-wall into 
the next Pit. None too soon : for the pursuing fiends 
stood directly over them just as their feet touched the 
bottom ; but all peril was past, the appointed officials of 
Pit 5 being powerless to quit their field of action. 

Already in Pit 6, the Poets found themselves in company 
no longer with demons, but with Hypocrites. At first the 
nature of their punishment was not apparent, but it was 
soon explained by one of them, the Bolognese Catalano de' 
Catalani, of the military and religious Order of Knights of 
S. Mary, popularly nicknamed Frati Godenti, or Jolly Friars. 
He, with his colleague Loderingo degli Andalo, had been 
elected on account of seeming virtues to the office of Podesta 
in a peculiarly troublous year at Florence, and had acted 
with the grossest avarice, injustice, and violence. In this 
Pit not only is courtesy observed this we might perhaps 
have expected; but, surprising as it may appear, truth is 
spoken. After marvelling over the degraded condition of 
Caiaphas and his fellow-councillors, Virgil inquired whether 
there was any opening that might afford him and his com- 
panion exit into the next Pit ; and learned that he was very 
near the point where, by clambering up the heaped ruins of 
the bridge, he would find himself once more on a chain 
thence to the end unbroken. Half-abashed and half-indig- 
nant he resumed his functions, till quite restored to serenity 
on approaching the pile he seized fast hold of his pupil 

86 Thieves and Evil Counsellors. 

from behind, and then impelled him upwards from crag to 
crag. All panting, Dante sat down just as he touched the 
top : but he was forthwith stirred up again, and soon was 
vainly peering from the bridge into the thick darkness of 
Pit 7. From the somewhat lower level of the wall- top how- 
ever he managed to discern a worse than Libyan desert of 
Thieves and Serpents, binding and bound, biting and 
bitten, consuming and consolidating, bewildering and be- 
wildered, men contracting into snakes, snakes expanding 
into men : none might say whose was whose, or who was 
who, or what was what : fit emblem of the social state 
when habitual contempt of the rights of property makes 
change the sole unchanging condition. Among these 
wretches no less than five Florentines were discovered. 
Two other sinners were specially noticed as belonging by 
the main course of their lives to the violent Robbers in 
Circle VII., but weighed down to this lower depth each by 
a single act of fraud : Cacus the Centaur (probably now 
demonized) by his driving Hercules' stolen cattle backwards 
to falsify their track, and Vanni Fucci of Pistoja by his 
sacrilegious theft from the sacristy of the Duomo of that 
city a crime for which an innocent man had very nearly, 
if not actually, suffered. 

Into Pit 8 it proved but too easy to see, for its flames 
swarmed thick as fire-flies in the Tuscan valleys those 
' thieving flames ' that swathe and conceal Evil Counsel- 
lors. Awfully intense was the impression made on the 
chief Intellect of his day by the doom of souls which, 
endowed with gifts in some instances even comparable 
to his own, had sinned as none could sin without those 
noblest faculties. 

Ulysses and Diomed : Guido of Montefeltro. 87 

Then grieved I, and I now do grieve again 
When I direct my mind to what I saw, 
And more rein in my thought than I am wont, 
Lest whither virtue guides it not it run ; 
So that, if bounteous star or better thing 
Gave me the good, myself pervert it not. 

xxvi. 19-24. 

Here two who had led the active life, Ulyssesjmd Diomed, *>\ 
burning together within a double-tongued winding-sheet, 
were paying the penalty of the bereaved Deidamia, the 
stolen Palladium, and the Jatal Horse : these two espe- 
cially excited Dante's attention and interest, and at Virgil's 
request Ulysses told the tale of his last voyage. 1 Here also 
one who after the active life of a warrior had as a Fran- 
ciscan turned to the contemplative life, Count Guido of, ' 
Montefeltro in the Apennines, is represented as bearing th 
irreparable consequences of trusting to Absolution before- 
hand for sin. His narrative is so painful that it is quite a 
relief to know how little reason there is for believing it true. 2 
No authority save this passage so much as hints at the evil 
counsel having been given ; Angeli, the historian of the 
Assisi convent, evidently disbelieves, while Muratori the 
critic indignantly rejects the story; and Dante himself in 
his Convito unites with numerous contemporaries in witness- 
ing to the virtues of this 'most noble Latin.' 8 Muratori 
indeed suggests political motives as not improbably furnish- 
ing the key to the accusation. Under this protest let the 
awful history, as related by the sufferer himself, be read. 

1 See page 15. 

2 G. Rossetti, Com. An. Riflessioni sul c. xxvii. Fraticelli in he. 
Conv. iv. 28. 

88 Guido retiring from the world. 

' I was a man of arms, then cordelier, 

Thinking, so girded, to have made amends ; 

And certes my belief had come fulfilled, 

Were 't not for the Arch-priest, 1 whom evil seize, 

Who put me back into my former wrongs : 

And how and wherefore I will have thee hark. 

The whiles I was the form of bones and pulp 

My mother gave to me, my doings were 

Not lion-like, but rather of the fox. 

I knew precautions and clandestine ways, 

Each one, and managed so the art of them 

That forth the sound went to the end of earth. 

When I beheld myself arrived at that 

Part of mine age when every one would well 

Lower the sails, and gather in the ropes, 

That which before had pleased me pained me then, 

And penitent I yielded, and confessed, 

Alas me wretched ! and it would have served. 

The sovereign of the modern pharisees, 

Having a war near Lateran to wage, 2 

(And not with Saracens, nor yet with Jews, 

Seeing his enemies were Christians all, 

And none at Acre had been conquering, 8 

Nor merchandising in the Soldan's land), 4 

Regarded in himself nor charge supreme, 

Nor holy orders, nor in me the cord 

Which used to make more lean its girded ones ; 

But, as within Soracte Constantine 

Prayed Sylvester for cure from leprosy, 5 

1 ' Pope Boniface VIII.' 2 'Against the Colonna family.' 

8 'As the Saracens had done in 1291.' 

* ' Like the renegade Christians.' 

5 'The legend ran that, in gratitude for a miraculous cure thus 
effected on him by Pope Sylvester, Constantine endowed the pontiffs 
\vith the government of Rome.' 

Guido in sin and after death. 89 

So unto me prayed this man, as his leach, 
Thus from his haughty fever to be cured. 
He asked me counsel ; and I held my peace, 
Because his words appeared intoxicate. 
And then said he : " Let not thy heart suspect : 
I even now absolve thee ; teach me thou 
How Penistrino 1 I may throw to earth. 
I am able to lock up and unlock heaven, 
And this thou knowest ; for the keys are two 
The which my predecessor 2 held not dear." 
The weighty arguments impelled me then, 
Where my resolve was silence, to the worse ; 
And, " Since thou lav'st me, father," I replied, 
" From that misdeed which I must fall in now, 
Long promising, with short fulfilment, will 
Make thee to triumph in the lofty chair." 
Then, after I was dead, did Francis come 
For me ; but one of the black Cherubim 
Said to him : " Take him not, nor do me wrong. 
He must come down among my sorry folk, 
Because he gave the fraudulent advice, 
Whereafter at his hair I 've been till now : 
For who repents not cannot be absolved ; 
Neither at once can one repent and will, 
Because the contradiction bears it not." 
Ah woful me ! how did I shake myself 
When as he took me, saying, " Thou perhaps 
Didst not imagine I was logic-learned." 
He carried me to Minos ; and he writhed 
Eight times his tail about his callous back, 
And, after for great rage he 'd bitten it, 

1 ' Where the Colonnas were still seated/ 

2 Celestin V., who voluntarily abdicated the Papal throne. 

90 Schismatics and Discord-breeders. 

Said, " That 's a criminal of the thieving fire." 
Wherefore where thou beholdest I am lost, 
And rankle, going in this manner clothed.' 

When he had thus made ending of his speech, 
The flame in anguish took departure hence, 
Writhing and brandishing its sharpened horn. 

xxvu. 67-132. 

Standing over Pit 9, Dante was reminded of the bloodiest 
battlefields recorded in history. As he intently gazed on 
a Shade split from the chin downwards, it spontaneously 
made itself known as Mahomet, and after pointing out All 
cleft from the chin upwards, set forth the sin and punish- 
ment of the whole mutilated troop, and inquired of Dante 
who he was, and why there. The answer came from Virgil, 
awakening an amazement which for the moment suspended 
the procession, and afforded opportunity for naming some 
other Souls. Among these was Mosca_degliJIberti, maimed 
of both hands : the suggester of the bloody revenge taken 
by the Amidei for the slight put upon their kinswoman by 
Buondelmonte, and so the introducer into Florence of the 
Guelph-Ghibelline discord. 1 The last comer was Bertrand 
de Born, Viscount de Hautefort, whom historians accuse as 
the inciter of the rebellion of Prince Henry (called ' the 
young King/ as having been already crowned) against his 
father Henry II. of England. Here Dante himself shall 


I remained to look upon the troop, 

And saw a thing which I should be in fear, 
Without more proof, of telling, I alone, 
But that my conscience reassureth me, 

1 See page 26. 

Bertrand de Born. 9 1 

The good companion which emboldens man 
Under the hauberk of its feeling pure. 
I certes saw, and seems I see it still, 
A trunk without a head proceeding, so 
As went the others of the sorry flock. 
And by the hair he held his truncate head, 
In guise of lantern, pendulous in hand : 
And that gazed on us, and it said, ' Oh me ! ' 
He of himself made light unto himself, 
And they were two in one, and one in two: 
How it can be He knows Who governs thus. 

When he was right against the bridge's foot, 
He raised, with all the head, his arm on high, 
So to approach to us the words thereof, 
Which were: * See now the troublous penalty, 
Thou who go'st breathing, looking at the dead : 
See whether any is so great as this. 
And, for that thou mayst carry of me news, 
I, know thou, am Bertrand de Born, the man 
Who gave the young king ill encouragements. 
I mutually made rebels son and sire : 
Ahithophel made Absalom no more, 
And David, with his wicked goadings-on. 
Because I parted persons thus conjoined, 
My brain, alas ! I carry parted from 
Its principle which is in this my trunk. 
So retribution is in me observed.' 

The many people and the diverse wounds 
Had made mine eyes intoxicated so 
That they were fain to stay a-weeping. But 
Virgil said to me : ' What then starest thou on ? 

9 2 Geri del Bella. 

And wherefore prythee does thy vision bend 
Down there among the mournful mangled shades? 
Thou hast not done so at the other pits. 
Consider, if thou think'st to number them, 
The valley turneth twenty miles and two : 
Already too the moon 's beneath our feet ; 
The time is little now that's granted us, 
And there is more to see than thou believ'st.' 

* An if thou hadst,' I thereon answered him, 

* Attended to the cause for which I looked, 
Perhaps thou 'dst yet have suffered me to stay.' 
My guide was partly going now, and on 

I went behind him, making the reply, 

And saying furthermore : * Within that fosse 

Whereon so steadfastly mine eyes I set 

I think a spirit of my blood doth weep 

The guilt which costeth there-adown so much.' 

Then said the master : ' Do not let thy thought 
Be stumbling from henceforward upon him. 
Elsewhere attend, and there let him remain : 
For I beheld him at the bridge's foot 
Point thee, and with his finger threaten hard, 
And heard him named Geri del Bello. Thou 
Wast so entirely at the time engrossed 
With him who held aforetime Hautefort 
Thou thither lookedst not, so he was gone.' 

' Alas ! my lord, the death by violence 

Which is not yet avenged to him,' said I, 

' By any that is consort in the shame, 

Made him disdainful ; therefore went he off, 

As I conceive, without addressing me, 

And so he 's made me piteous towards him more.' 

xxvin. 112-142. xxix. 1-36. 

The Falsifiers. 93 

This Geri del Bello, related to Dante on the father's side, 
had been killed in a quarrel with one of the Sacchetti ; and, 
according to the barbarous theory of the day, had a right 
to expect his kindred to carry on the blood-feud. Dante's 
non-compliance with this usage, and excuse notwithstanding 
of his kinsman, are perhaps the sole instances recorded in the 
Poem of his exercising the virtue of Meekness as opposed 
to Vindictiveness. Fearful enough was his experience of 
the woes entailed by blood-feuds upon his city. In the 
Purgatorio we probably have a further hint of his sentiments 
on this subject 1 

But already the Pilgrims stood directly above the Tenth 
and last Pit, which might have been taken for a hospital 
wherein all the malaria patients of the worst districts and 
worst season of Italy were massed together. Dante's ears 
were quickly stopped with his hands, so piteous were the 
groans that pierced them ; and his eyes and nose might well 
have been also stopped from sights and smells no less offen- 
sive. Among the leprous Alchemists were distinguished 
two seated back to back, GrirTolin d' Arezzo and Capoc- 
chio; among the mad False-Personators Gianni Schicchi, 
who counterfeiting in semblance a man already dead, but 
not yet known to be so, had made in his name a fraudulent 
will ; among the fever-stricken Liars Potiphar's wife, and 
Sinon the Greek of Trojan infamy; among the dropsical 
Coiners Mastro Adamo of Brescia, who for alloying the 
golden florin had been burned to death by the Florentine Gov- 
ernment. Between this last and Sinon a sudden skirmish 
took place, keen and brisk in word and blow ; and proved, 
in the Sage's judgment, far too amusing to his pupil. 

1 See page 134. 

94 Dante reproved by Virgil. 

To listen to them I was wholly fixed, 
When * Look now,' unto me the master said, 

* That I am all but quarrelling with thee.' 

Whenas I heard him speak to me in wrath, 

I turned towards him with so much of shame 

That in my memory it whirleth still. 

And, as is he who dreams of his mischance, 

Who, dreaming, wishes that it were a dream, 

And longs so, as 'twere not, for that which is ; 

Such I became, incapable to speak, 

Who wished to make excuse, and all the while 

Excused myself, and thought not that I did. 

* Less shame will wash a greater foible out,' 

The master said, ' than that which thine has been : 
Therefore unlade thyself of all distress. 
And reckon that I 'm always at thy side 
If yet it happen fortune catches thee 
Where there are people in a broil like this; 
For wishing to hear that's a base desire.' 

xxx. 130-148. 

And now in silence they were crossing the parapet of the 
last portion of the awful Void, here probably about 35 
feet deep : when lo ! a horn sounded with a blast of force 
to hoarsen loudest thunder. Peering through the twilight, 
along the edge of the wide embankment Dante beheld 
what he took for many high towers; Virgil however 
quickly informed him that these were no towers, but Giants 
disposed at intervals all round the well, so that about half 
their person was visible above its brink, and half concealed 
within. 1 Fear came on Dante as error fled ; but soon he 

1 Ampere (Voyage Dantesque, 277, quoted by Longfellow, note on 
Inf. xxxi. 59) computes the height of Nimrod at 70 feet. 

Caina and Antenora : Traitors. 95 

learned how little there was to fear from creatures either 
powerless or not inclined to harm. Nimrod howled a 
Babel or pre-Babel jargon which sounded threatening, but 
made no objection when Virgil reminded him of the horn 
through which, he might vent his rage ; Ephialtes, appar- 
ently worse disposed, was chained, as was also Briareus ; 
while Tityus and Typhoeus would presumably, if applied 
to, have been moved by desire of fame to assist the Pil- 
grims, and Antaeus from this motive actually was induced 
to take them up in a bundle where they stood, and then 
bending forwards set them down at the foot of the ninth 
and last earth-wall, on the brink of the frost-bound pool 
Cocytus. It seemed a basin of glass, not water ; its ice so 
hard that the fall of a mountain would have failed to make 
even the edge creak. In its outmost Belt Caina, among 
other Betrayers of kindred, two wretched brothers, Ales- 
sandro and Napoleone degli Alberti, mutual fratricides on 
account of their patrimony, were seen frozen head to head 
by the hair. Next came Antenora: 

Then did I see a thousand faces made 

Doglike by cold ; whence shuddering to me comes, 

And always will come, for the frozen fords. 

And, while we were proceeding toward the midst 

Whereunto every weight doth concentrate, 

And I was trembling in the eternal dark, 

Whether 't was will, or destiny, or hap, 

I know not ; but, in walking through the heads, 

I struck my foot hard in the face of one. 

On me he weeping cried : ' Why poundest me ? 
Unless thou com'st the vengeance to increase 
For Mont' Aperti, why dost me molest ? ' 

xxxn. 70-81. 

96 Bocca degli AbatL 

This reprobate was Bocca degli Abati, a Florentine 
Guelph who at the battle of Montaperti had actually 
for Ghibelline gold cut off the arm of his own party's 
standard-bearer, and so brought on its defeat. 

And I : ' My master, now await me here, 
That I may get out of a doubt by him : 
Then thou shalt hurry me howe'er thou wilt.' 

The leader stopped : and unto him I said, 
Who in the mean while kept blaspheming hard, 
* Who art thou who revil'st another thus ? ' 

'Now, who art thou who go'st through Antenore, 
Striking,' he answered, 'on another's cheeks, 
So that, were I alive, 'twere overmuch ?' 

' Alive am I ; and, if thou askest fame, 
It may be dear to thee,' was my response, 
'That I should put thy name 'mong other notes.' 

And he to me : 'I wish the contrary : 
Arise herefrom, and give me irk no more, 
For ill know'st thou to flatter in this plain.' 

Then took I hold upon him by the scalp, 

And said : ' 'T will have to be thou name thyself, 

Or that no hair remain to thee hereon.' 

Whence he to me : ' For thine unhairing me, 
I '11 neither tell nor show thee who I am, 
If on my head thou fall a thousand times.' 

I had in hand his hair already twined, 
And I had plucked more than one lock of it, 
He barking with his eye concentred down, 
When cried another : ' Bocca, what dost want ? 
Is 't not enough for thee to sound thy jaws 
Unless thou bark'st ? What devil touches thee ? ' 

' Now,' said I, ' I 've no wish for thee to speak, 
Flagitious traitor ; for, unto thy shame, 

I '11 carry of thee veritable news.' 

xxxii. 82-111. 

But the horror of horrors was yet to come. Just where 
Antenora confines with Ptolemaea protruded a head frozen 
in one hole with another head, but above it, gnawing and 
gnawing it. The gnawer ' was the Pisan Count Ugolino 
della Gherardesca, whose attributed but not attested crime 
was the having sold to Florence and Lucca certain castles of 
Pisa; the gnawed was his traitorous friend, Archbishop Rug- 
gicri degli Ubaldini, through whose abhorred machinations 
he, with two sons and two grandsons, had been starved to 
death in a tower called subsequently the Tower of Famine. 
At Dante's entreaty 

That sinner from the savage meal his mouth 

Uplifted, wiping it upon the hair 

Of the head which he 'd wasted from behind. 

Then he began : ' Thou 'dst have me to renew 
Desperate grief, which presses on my heart 
Now only thinking, ere I speak of it. 
But, if my words may be a seed to yield 
Infamy to the traitor whom I gnaw, 
Thou shalt behold me speak and weep at once. 
I know not who thou art, nor by what mode 
Thou 'rt come down hither : but a Florentine 
Thou, when I hear thee, seem'st to me in truth. 
I was Count Ugolino, thou must know, 
And he Archbishop Roger : now will I 
Tell wherefore I 'm a neighbor like to this. 1 

1 ' Why I am such a bad neighbor to Ruggieri (by devouring his head).' 


98 Ugolino tells of his dream, 

That, by the effecting of his evil thoughts, 
Confiding in him, I was captured, 
And after done to death, I need not tell. 
Nevertheless, what thou canst not have heard, 
That is, how much my death was cruel, thou 
Shalt hear, and know whether he 's injured me. 
A scanty opening within the mew 
Which has from me the name of Famine, and 
Wherein it needs that others too be shut, 
Had shown me through its loophole several moons 
Already, when I had the evil sleep 
Which rent away for me the future's veil. 
Master and lord this man unto me seemed, 
Chasing the wolf and wolf-cubs to the mount 
Because of which the Pisans see not Lucca. 1 
With bitches lean, and eager, and well-trained, 
He had Gualandi, with Sismondi and 
Lanfranchi, 2 stationed in the front of him. 
In little course, the father and the young 
Seemed to me tired, and with the sharpened fangs 
I seemed to see the flanks of them ripped up. 
When I before the morrow was awake, 
Weeping amid their sleep I heard my sons 
Which were along with me, and asking bread. 
Sure thou art cruel if thou grievest not 
Already, thinking what was told my heart ; 
And, if thou weep'st not, when art wont to weep ? 
We now were wakened, and the hour approached 
When food was customed to be brought to us, 
And each was doubting, on his dream's account : 
And I heard locked the exit underneath 

1 ' Mount San Giuliano. which stands between the two cities.' 

2 ' Three of the Ghibelline auxiliaries of the Archbishop/ 

and of his death by starvation. 99 

The horrible turret ; whereupon I looked 

In my sons' faces, saying not a word. 

I wept not, I so petrified within : 

They wept ; and said my Anselmuccio, " Thou, 

Father, art looking so ? How is 't with thee ? " 

I shed no tear, however, nor replied 

The whole of that day, nor the after night, 

Till issued in the world the other sun. 

Whenas some little ray had got itself 

Into the painful dungeon, and I marked 

My selfsame aspect upon faces four, 

I bit for anguish into both my hands : 

And they, supposing I did that for need 

Of eating, of a sudden raised themselves, 

And said : " 'T will give us, father, much less pain 

If us thou eat'st of: thou induedst us 

This miserable flesh, and doff it thou." 

I, not to make them sadder, stilled me then : 

That and the next day we remained all dumb ; 

Ah ! hardened earth, why openedst thou not ? 

When to the fourth day we were come, before 

My feet, distended, Gaddo threw himself, 

Saying, " My father, why not give me help ? " 

Herewith he died ; and, as thou seest me, 

I saw the three fall one by one, between 

The fifth day and the sixth : whereat I took, 

Already blind, to groping over each, 

And three days called them after they were dead. 

Then fasting more availed than sorrowing.' 

When he had spoken this, with eyes askew 
He took again the wretched skull with teeth 
Which like a dog's upon the bone were strong. 

xxxin. 1-78. 

ioo Ptolcmcea: Frate Alberigo. 

And Dante, with bleeding heart and burning lips invoking 
vengeance on Pisa, s passed from the edge into the Belt of 
Ptolemaea. Here not only the supine posture of the lost 
made concealment impossible, but the tears, congealing 
even as they sprang, blocked up the cavity of the eye with 
ice which, while permitting sight, greatly increased torment 
by stopping up the vent of pain. 

And, notwithstanding that, as from a corn, 
Every feeling, by the cold's effect, 
Had ceased its lodgement in my countenance, 
I ne'ertheless appeared to feel some wind ; 
Whence I : * My master, who is moving this ? 
Below here is not every vapor quenched ? ' 

And he to me : ' Thou shalt anon be where 
The eye shall give thee answer as to that, 
Seeing the cause which raineth out the blast.' 

And one o' the mournful of the freezing rind 

Cried unto us : ' O Spirits cruel so 

As that the final post is given ye, 

Take from my face the hardened veils, that I 

May vent the sorrow which impregns my heart 

A little, ere again the weeping freeze.' 

Whence I to him : 'If thou wouldst have mine aid, 
Say who thou wast ; and if I free thee not, 
To the ice's bottom let me have to go.' 

xxxm. 100-117. 

Alas for Dante ! twice we have mourned him wrathful, 
this time far more deeply mourn him false ; for this promise 
made to the ear was to be broken_to_the_hope, inasmuch as 
he actually wished and prayed now to go to the bottom of 

The entrance on Judecca. i o i 

the ice. The Shade went on to name himself Frate 
Alberigo (of the same order of ' Frati Godenti' as the two 
Hypocrites met with in Circle VIII., Pit 6 1 ), and to refer 
obscurely to the horrible treachery by which he had mur- 
dered his guests at a banquet. Dante, all unknowing of 
his death, questioned him in surprise, and was informed 
that Ptolemaea has the ' advantage ' of receiving instantly 
on the consummation of the traitorous deed the traitor's 
soul, which thenceforward remains utterly ignorant how 
long, demon-informed, the body walks the earth, and at 
what moment, demon-deserted, it is buried. Alberigo went 
on to cite, as perhaps a case in point, that of Branca d' 
Oria close behind him ; and after answering his listener's 
amazed doubts with a further asseveration of the fact, 
claimed at length the looked-for relief. 

' But hither now betimes stretch out thine hand, 
Open mine eyes.' And them I opened not, 
And to be rude to him was courtesy. 

xxxiu. 148-150. 

The pilgrims set foot on the Belt Judecca : and now 

* Vexilla Regis prodeunt 2 Inferni 

Toward us : therefore look in front of thee,' 

My master said, k if thou discernest him.' 

As, at the time when breathes a heavy fog, 
Or when our hemisphere is under night, 
Appears from far a mill which wind doth turn, 

1 See p. 85. 

2 Thus begins the Vespers Hymn for Passion-tide ; Virgil adds ' In- 
ferni,' so that the meaning here is, ' The banners of the King of Hell 

'162' The gaze on L ucifer, 

Meseemed to see then such an edifice : 
Then, for the wind, I strained me up behind 
My leader, for no other cave l was there. 
Already was I (and with fear I put 
It into metre) where the Shades were all 
Covered, and like a mote in glass showed through. 
Down some are lying ; others stand erect, 
That with the head, and with the foot-soles that ; 
Another, as a bow, inverts toward 
The feet the visage. 

When so far we'd got 
As that my master pleased to show to me 
The Creature which had had the noble form, 
He from before me moved, and made me stay, 
Saying: * Behold here Dis, and here the place 
Where it befits thou arm with fortitude.' 

Thereat how frozen I became, and hoarse, 

Ask it not, reader, for I write it not, 

For little would be every utterance. 

I died not, and I did not keep alive ; 

Think for thyself now, if thou'st flower of wit, 

What I became, deprived of one and both. 

xxxiv. 1-27. 

Within the deep Dante stood gazing upon the deep, 
within the deep of the material Hell upon the deep of the 
moral Hell, the form of Lucifer : and in that gaze he knew 
what Beatrice had sent him there to learn what Sin is, and 
\ what it works, and what it suffers in soul and body. 

The Lamentable Kingdom's Emperor 
Issued from out the ice with half his breast ; 

1 ' No other shelter.' 

the Hell- Emperor. 103 

And with a giant more do I compare 

Than with his arms do giants : therefore see 

How great must be that whole which corresponds 

Unto a part so fashioned. If he was 

As beautiful as he is ugly now, 

And raised his brows against his Maker, sure 

All sorrowfulness must proceed from him. 

Ah! how great marvel unto me it seemed 

When I beheld three faces to his head ! 

The one before, and that was vermeil-hue : 

Two were the others which adjoined to this, 

Over the midst of either shoulder, and 

They made the joining where the crown is placed. 

And between white and yellow seemed the right ; 

The left was such an one to be beheld 

As come from there wherein the Nile is sunk. 

There issued under each two mighty wings, 

Such as 't was fitting for so great a bird : 

I never saw the sails of shipping such. 

They had not feathers, but the mode thereof 

Was like a bat's ; and these he fluttered so 

That from him there was moved a threefold wind : 

Cocytus all was frozen over hence. 

With six eyes wept he, and three chins along 

The weeping trickled, and a bloody foam. 

At every mouth he shattered with his teeth 

A sinner, in the manner of a brake, 

So that he thus made woful three of them. 

The biting for the foremost one was nought 

Unto the scratching, for at times the spine 

Remained of all the skin completely stripped. 

* That Soul above which has most punishment 

Is,' said my lord, 'Judas Iscariot, 

Who has his head within, and outside plies 

IO4 The passage of the Centre of Gravity. 

His legs. O' the other two, whose head is down, 
Brutus is he who from the black head hangs ; 
See how he writhes, and does not speak a word : 
The other 's Cassius,, who appears so gaunt.' 

xxxiv. 28-67. 

But now the Master might release the disciple from his 
awful contemplation ; the night of Holy Saturday was 
setting in, and nought else remained to see. 

I, as it pleased him, did embrace his neck, 
And he took vantage of the time and place ; 
And, when the wings were opened far apart, 
He caught upon the shaggy ribs. From tuft 
To tuft he afterwards descended down 
Between the thick hair and the frozen crusts. 
When we had got thereunto where the thigh 
Turns just upon the thickness of the haunch, 
The leader, with fatigue and anguishing, 
Turned round his head to where he had his shanks, 
And grappled to the hair as one who mounts, 
So that I thought I back returned to Hell. 

' Now hold on well ; for by such stairs as these,' 
The master, panting like a tired man, said, 
' It needs from so much ill that we depart.' 

Then forth through a stone's orifice he came, 

And put me down to sit upon the brink : 

He set toward me then his wary step. 

I raised mine eyes, and thought I should have seen 

Lucifer as I 'd left him just, and I 

Beheld him holding upperward his legs. 

And whether I became then travailed let 

The grosser folk conceive, which seeth not 

What was the point that I had overpassed. 

Dante propounds three perplexities. 105 

* Rise up,' the master said, ' upon thy feet ; 
The way is long, and sorry is the road, 
And now the sun returns to half of three.' 1 

'T was not the pathway of a palace there 
Where we were passing, but a natural cell 
Which had soil evil, and no ease of light. 

' Or ever I do pluck me from the abyss, 

My master,' said I, when I was erect, 

' A whit, to loose from error, speak to me. 

Where is the ice ? And how is this one stuck 

So topsy-turvy ? And in time so scant 

How has the sun from evening passed to morn ? ' 

xxxiv. 70-105. 

These inquiries the Master answered as we, knowing 
beforehand the plan of Dante's Universe, can answer for 
ourselves. The Poets had cleared the centre of gravity 
when Virgil had struggled so hard in turning; they were 
now sitting on the earth which forms, so to say, the reverse 
of the ice-medal Judecca ; in opposite hemispheres morning 
corresponds to evening ; 

'And this who makes our staircase with his fell 
Is still so planted as he was at first. 
Downward in this part did he fall from Heaven ; 
And here the earth, which did before project, 
Made of the sea, for fear of him, a veil, 
And came unto our hemisphere ; and that 
Which there appears, and upward rushed, perchance 
To flee from him, left vacant here the place.' 

xxxiv. 119-126. 

1 'To the half of three hours from the Jewish third hour, i.e. to an 
hour and a half before noon.' 

1 06 The ascent through the Earth. 

And now they have but to ascend. 

Down there 's a place, remote from Belzebub 

As great a distance as the tomb l extends, 

Which not by sight is known, but by the sound 

Made by a runnel which descendeth here 

By a stone's hole which it has eaten out 

During the course it turns ; and little this 

Impends. My guide and I by that hid path 

Entered to turn again to the clear world : 

And, having not a care of any rest, 

We mounted up, he first and second I, 

So far that I, through a round opening, saw 

Some of the beauteous things which heaven contains: 

And hence we came to re-behold the stars. 2 

xxxiv. 127-139. 

1 'The "tomb" appears to be the entire hollow of Hell from its 
entrance down to Lucifer. If so, the "place remote from Belzebub " 
(Lucifer) is the entire space between him and the exit from Hell. Or 
possibly the tomb is the well or space leading down from the giants 
to Judecca and Lucifer ; in which case the " place " is the particular 
sppt from which Dante now proceeds on his way to Purgatory.' 

2 ' The word stars (stelle) ends all the three parts of the Commedia.' 



Ove 1'umano spirito si purga. 

Wherein the human spirit doth purge itself. 

Pur. i. 5. 

T)URGATORY is placed by Dante on the highest 
f. mountain in the world, the only land in the Water- 
hemisphere ; an island in the form of an elevated cone 
blunted at the top, its skirts within the Sphere of Air, its 
heights within the Sphere of Fire, its transitional confine 
the Gate of S. Peter, its crown the Terrestrial Paradise. 
The shores are washed by the vast Western Ocean, across 
which, from the time of our Blessed Lord's Descent into 
Hell till when Dante supposes all the Elect to have gone 
down to Limbo comes flying ever and anon the oarless, 
sailless, Angel-piloted bark that bears the blessed freight 
of such Souls as, departing in grace, await not on Acheron's 
but on Tiber's banks the signal for their supreme voyage. 
For no disembodied Soul but is gathered to one or other of 
these two streams; and there, all its inferior faculties in 
abeyance, but Will, Memory, and Understanding far keener 
than before, attracts and moulds its' surrounding air into the 
shade-body which is thenceforth till the Resurrection to 
constitute its medium of feeling and expression. In form 
precisely resembling the fleshly tabernacle so lately put off, 

io8 Symbolism of the Western Island. 

and organizing for itself corresponding senses, this aerial 
unsubstantial body, incapable of fleshly needs, is yet capable 
of the pains, as hunger and thirst, which accompany them ; 
of speech and laughter also, of sighs and tears, and of 
whatever outward signs betoken inward sensation or affec- 
tion. And Dante imagines that the Angelic boatman ever 
visiting the mouth of the Tiber himself selects his succes- 
sive freights of Shades, leaving some and taking others 
according to his will, which is the reflection of the just Will 
of God. 

x As no unbending or leaf-bearing plant could live under 
the beating of the waves, the low wet shore of the Island 
grows reeds, and reeds alone ; fit type of the humility 
which, giving way under the rod, finds it to be for correc- 
tion and not for destruction. So likewise, the moment a 
reed is plucked it springs afresh ; for virtues and means of 
salvation waste not in the using. 1 

And because on the Mount is the healing of moral cor- 
ruption, its slopes are irradiated bythe constellation bf~the~~~ 
.Southern Cross (probably known to Dante through the 
Catalogue of Ptolemy), whose four stars meetly symbolize 
the moral virtues of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and 
Temperance. By these even unchristened Man, albeit 
dubiously and fitfully, may steer his course through this 
present world ; and so Virgil, the impersonation of .Human 
Science, is still the guide, though oftentimes the hesitating 
guide, even to the summit of the steep ascent. Sore^ofnce 
for a dweller in Limbo, seeing the sojourners in Purgatory 
are his fellows in the pain of loss, his worse than fellows 
in the pain of sense : yet how should he not at every step 

1 Fraticelli, note on Pur. i. 135. 

Cato the Warden. The Mountains base. 109 

fathom the fathomlessness of the great gulf fixed between 
the Prisoners of Hope and the Prisoner of Hopelessness? 
Yea, and far more for that the Warden of the Mount is Cato 

of Utica, brought forth from that same Limbo under trie 

_^^^ ii ~ . . . i . 

lawoTTeaving behind the affections that bound him there ; 
and perhaps for his rigid virtue and preference of death 
to slavery set over the world where Spirits by energy and 
suffering pass out of the last remnants of the bondage of 
corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 1 

The base of the Mountain is the haunt of Souls which, 
repenting in their lajit moments, have yet departed under 
the censures of the Church. These have to expiate each 
year of deferred penitence with thirty^^ars.~QLjdeferred 
Purgatory ; except and this holds good of every Soul before 

1 Dante most distinctly states (Par. xix. 103-105) that none des- 
titute of faith prospective or of faith retrospective in Christ ever did 
or ever will enter Heaven. Yet he places Cato of Utica in Purgatory 
as a saved soul awaiting a glorified body, and already no prisoner, but 
a ruler: and he does so without any such explanation as he gives 
(Par. xx., see pp. 246, 247) in the cases of Trajan and Ripheus. How 
is this ? I am tempted to refer to a slight communication made by my 
brother W. M. Rossetti to Notes and Queries. In the English trans- 
lation of the mediaeval treatise entitled Cursor Mundi, Dionysius Cato, 
a writer of uncertain faith and date, is obviously confounded with one 
of the two Roman Catos ; and is thus (in substance) spoken of : ' Cato, 
although a pagan, never either spoke or wrote aught contrary to the 
Christian faith. He is invariably in accord with Holy Writ : he who 
follows Cato's precepts follows those of the Bible. The Holy Ghost, 
" by reason," seemed to be in Cato. God grant us grace to follow 
Cato's precepts, and to be his companions where he dwells.' This 
looks as if the author or translator, or both, of this curious old book 
regarded Cato as having a sort of pre-intuition of Christianity. If so, 
may there not have been, in the Middle Ages, some kind of floating 
tradition to that effect ? and might not this possibly account for Dante's 
exempting him from Hell ? (Notes and Queries, 4th S. ii. 229.) 

no Ante- Purgatory : three stages. 

and during every stage of cleansing delay be shortened by 
pious prayers on earth. For ampler satisfaction is made 
to the Divine Justice by love than by time : wherefore one 
moment of intense supplication may obtain the remission of 
years of lingering. 

Respecting the Mountain itself these two points may be 
premised : Uhat^the ascent, at first all but too narrow and 
too steep to be scaled at all. becomes gradua]ly_easy and 
delightful as progress is made ; and that not one upward 
step can ever be taken after sunset. 'The night cometh, 
when no man can work.' 1 

Above the base rise the skirts within the Sphere of Air, 
therefore subject to atmospheric vicissitudes; and below 
the Gate of S. Peter, therefore affording no means of 

On the winding terrace of this Ante-Purgatory are dis- 
tinguished three successive stages, haunted by three more 
classes of tardy penitents, who having unlike those at the 
base died in communion with the Church, are detained_pnly 
during a period corresponding to that of their delay on earth. 
The first class comprises those who from 'negligence put 
off their conversion to their deathbed : the second those 
who, dying by violence, and sinners up to their last hour, 
repented and forgave after the death-stroke was received : 
the third those Princes and Rulers who postponed piety 
and let slip opportunities of good through absorption in 
earthly interests and love of earthly greatness; these last 
pass the night in a grassy flowery dell in the mountain-side, 
in color all one glow, in odor all one fragrance. The 
denizens of this whole lower region seem not yet entirely 

1 S. John ix. 4. 

The Gate of S. Peter. 1 1 1 

freed from sinful infirmities, neither is their peace untinged 
with care and fear : such as rest sit down under a sense of 
the hopelessness of making any real progress upward ; such 
as walk chant Miserere as they go ; such as converse need 
and impart consolation; such as humbly dreading the Ad- "< 
versary watch for the nightfall, greet it with the Compline 
hymn sung with accordant voices and lifted eyes, jmdjire__ 
answered by the descent of Guardian Angels, green-winged --d 
and robed for hope, golden-haired and radiant-visaged for 
glory, with fiery swords against the lurking Serpent, with 
blunted swords towards the reposing Elect, falcons to watch, 
falcons to fly, moved swifter than seen to move. And as 
the day is ruled by the Southern Cross of fourfold virtues, 
so the night by the Alphas l of threefold graces, Faith, 
Hope, and Charity. 

Immediately above the termination of the winding ter- 
race, on the frontier of the Sphere of Fire, theLaie-d-Sr 
jgeiejjirmly set m a c i e f t o f t h e rO ck gives or bars access 
to Purgatory Proper, and so ultimately to the Terrestrial and 
the Celestial Paradise. The approach to the Gate is by 
three steps : the first of white marble polished into a mirror ; 
the second of inky-purple stone, rough and calcined, split 
both lengthwise and athwart ; the third of flaming blood-red 
porphyry. On this rest the feet of him who sits on the 
adamantine threshold a dazzling Angel in clothing of 
ashen hue, having in his hand a drawn flashing sword, 
under his robe a golden and a silver key, both equally 
requisite for opening the Gate ; the golden the more pre- 
cious, the silver, as that which unlocks the inmost wards, 
demanding more skill in its employment. These were 

1 The Alphas of Eridanus, of the Ship, and of the Golden Fish. 

1 1 2 The Gate is the Tribunal of Penance. 

committed to him by S. Peter, with a charge rather to err 
towards prostrate supplicants in opening than in keeping 
closed. But he who should enter and look back would find 
himself once more without. ' No man, having put his 
hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the King- 
dom of God.' 1 

At this point it is indispensable to refer to Dante's own 
account of his Commedia : ' The subject of all the work, 
accepted literally only, is the state of souls after death 
taken simply ; because respecting it and around it the pro- 
cess of all the work revolves. But if the work is accepted 
allegorically, the subject is Man, in so far as by free-will 
meriting and demeriting, he is amenable to the justice of 
reward and punishment.' 2 Therefore, as in the Hell are 
set forth the moral and penal effects of sin in this world as 
well as in the world to come, so and yet more in . the Purga- 
tory the undoing of those effects, and the formation of 
habits of virtue in life as well as after death. Contemplated 
through the medium of this statement, the Mount and the 
things of the Mount from base to summit are plainly seen. 
We need hardly be told that the Gate of S. Peter is the 
Tribunal of Penance, for post-baptismal sinners the tran- 
sitional confine between the. irresolute who in the muta- 
bility of passion and sensation linger without the Kingdom 
of Heaven, and the violent who in the immutability of a 
steadfast will take it by force. The triple stair stands re- 
vealed as candid Confession mirroring the whole man, mourn- 
ful Contrition breaking the hard heart of the gazer on the 
Cross, Love all aflame offering up in Satisfaction the life- 

1 S. Luke ix 62. 

2 Epistle to Can Grande della Scala, 7. 

Construction of Purgatory proper. 1 1 3 

blood of body, soul, and spirit : the adamantine threshold- 
seat as the priceless Merits of Christ the Door, Christ 
the Rock, Christ the sure Foundation and the precious 
Corner-Stone. In the Angel of the Gate, as in the Gospel 
Angel of Bethesda, is discerned the Confessor; in the 
dazzling radiance of his countenance the exceeding glory of 
the ministration of righteousness ; in the penitential robe 
the sympathetic meekness whereby, restoring one overtaken 
in a fault, he considers himself lest he also be tempted ; in 
the sword the wholesome severity of his discipline ; in the 
golden key his Divine authority; in the silver the dis- 
cernment of spirits whereby he denies Absolution to the 
impenitent, the learning and discretion whereby he directs 
the penitent. 

He who enters by this Gate finds himself at the foot of 
a zigzag mountain pass, a veritable needle's eye. This 
threaded, he comes out not upon a winding, but upon a 
girding terrace. And here we pause for a study of moral 
theory and physical. .construction.. ^_~ 

Purgatory proper is the region between the Gate of S. 
Peter and the Terrestrial Paradise. It consists of seven 
Terraces or landing-places, each presumably equalling in 
-width the length of a man's body thrice repeated ; the suc- 
cessive ascents are by stairs cut out in the rock. Each 
Terrace is dedicated to the purgation of one of the seven 
Capital" Sins ; the first three of which spring from Love 
distorted, the middle one from Love defective, the last 
three from JLove excessive. For Love, which is in every 
creature the fundamental principle of action, requires two 
conditions for its purity and health : that in its fulness it be 
directed towards the Primal Goods, even towards Him, the 


114 The threefold vitiation of Love. 

only measure of our love of Whom is to love Him without 
measure, 1 and towards Virtue which conforms us to His 
Image : and that upon all secondary goods it rest in due 
measure, and no more. For thus is it the seed of every 
virtue ; but otherwise of every vice whereby man turns the 
creature against the Creator. The Distorter of Love loves _. 
evil to his neighbor : if for ni 5wn exaltation he 

desires another's depression, he^sjris^by^Pridej if, esteem- 
ing his own power, favor, honor, and fame to be les- 
sened by participation, he desires another's destitution, he 
sins by Envy ; if because of evil done to himself he desires 
vengeance on another, he sins by Anger. The^Defaulter 
in Love loves less than he might the Highest Good, and so 
striving after It all too slackly sins by Sloth. Ihfi^Ex;, 
ceeder in Love loves more than he ought some lower un- 
sufficing good : if this be money, he sins by Avarice ; if . 
food, by Gluttony; if sensual pleasure, by Lasciviousness. 
And the purgation of each sin is double, active and passive. 
All the penitents alike suffer bodily chastisement vividly 
representative of the sin wherein they lived, or the 
penance wherein they failed to live. And all alike, with 
the whole energy of a body, soul and spirit thrilled with 
agony, parched and consumed with thirst for God, spurred 
by examples of virtue (among which comes ever first some 
act or word of the Blessed Virgin), bridled by instances of 
vice, exercise themselves night and day, unflinching and 
unflagging, in the grace contrary to the sin for which they 
are making satisfaction. 

So much applies generally : we pass to what applies 

1 S. Franjois de Sales. 

Terrace I. Pride: II. Envy. 115 

On the first and lowest Terrace is expiated man's worst, 

deepest, fundamental corruption Pride. For how should 
he be purged of any other taint while this remains ? how of 
the rebellion of the will while yet exalting himself against 
the Divine Law? how of the folly of the understanding 
while yet despising the Divine Wisdom? Or how should 
virtue be acquired by any still counted among the proud 
whom God resisteth, and not among the humble to whom 
He giveth grace? Since then the first Purgatorial experi- 
ence of each pride-tainted soul must needs be of the irre- 
vocable sentence, * Every one that exalteth himself shall 
be abased,' l the penitents of Terrace I. have to creep 
round and round under weighty masses of stone laid upon 
their necks to bow them down to the very dust. All along 
the white marble rock-wall on their left are marvellously 
sculptured examples of Humility; on the pavement under 
their feet instances of Pride. They say the Lord's Prayer 
as they go, adding to each petition an act of humiliation 
of heart, mind, or will: and in every word of their con-, 
verse each studies to abase himself and exalt his fellows. 
At the foot of the narrow flight of steps which leads to 
the next Terrace stands a directing Angel, and the mount- 
ing penitent hears voices of sweetness unspeakable chant the 
now applicable benediction, ' Blessed are the poor in spirit.' 

Terrace II. has a general air of monotonous uniformity 
well suited to the prison-house of a sin which ' is ever where 
is some equality ' 2 between its subject and its object: and 
which, might it but have its way, would speedily reduce all 
around it to one dead level of inferiority. Pavement and 
wall are here not of carved white marble, but_ of smooth 

1 S. Luke xviii. 14. 2 Convito i. n. . 

1 1 6 Terrace II. Emy : III. Anger. 

livid stone, symbolizing in color the Envy to be chastised. 
The prisoners, mantled in haircloth of like hue, theijye^ 
lids sewed up with wire, sit shoulder to shoulder leaning on 
each other, and all leaning their backs against the bank. 
Their mean sad-colored penance-garb in its clinging, 
teasing, universal prickliness, serves as a corrective parable 
of their wilful taking not of pleasure, Envy is no pleasure, 
but of pain under the ban of the Royal Law ; pain most 
wearing in its despicable pettiness, cleaving like a burr to 
the soul, fastening on all things and all persons within its 
range. While in utter helplessness they realize the need of 
mutual support and assistance, their evil eye, the seat of 
their sin, learns in blindness and torture to look no more 
askance on gifts bestowed on each for all. Vain to those 
eyes were sculptures ; but spirit-voices in the air above 
them ring or thunder in their ears world-renowned sayings 
of the Loving and of the Envious. Their invocations 
entreat the prayers of all the Saints : their discourse, bitter 
now only in grave and sad rebuke of their own and others' 
sin, is sweet in tenderest Brotherly Love, acknowledged 
interdependence, and heartfelt gratitude. And their bene- 
diction on their release is this : ' Blessed are the merciful,' 
and ' Rejoice, O Victor.' 

Terrace III. is partially beclouded with an all-veiling 
smoke-fog thicker than the infernal darkness, bitter to the 
taste, and severely pungent to the eyes. We have seen in 
the Hell one probable reason for punishing Wrath with 
fumes ; an additional reason here seems to be the effect of 
this sin in so obstructing the mental eye as to make it in- 
capable of seeing anything as it really is. To the sufferers 
of this Circuit the instances of Meekness and of Anger are 

Terrace IV. Sloth : V. Avarice. 1 17 

inwardly presented in ecstatic vision ; this mode being prob- 
ably chosen on purpose to constrain them to keep their 
minds in that calm wherein during life they proved so 
wofully deficient. For peace and mercy they address their 
unceasing prayer, all one concord in word and tone, to the 
Lamb of God That taketh away the sins of the world : thus 
they learn to be angry and sin not, mourning over evil only 
with the righteous disinterested indignation which would 
fain see it wholly converted to good. And their final dis- 
charge is, ' Blessed are the peacemakers, that are without 
evil anger.' 

So far the sins of Love distorted. The next in^order^ is 
Love defective, which as doing little or no good occupies 
an exceptional transitional place between the two divisions 
of the Love which does evil. 

Terrace IV. is a race-course round which the Slothful run 
and run at their extremest speed. Nothing is done for 
them, but all by them : the foremost two lead on, shout- 
ing with tears examples of Diligence ; the whole pursuing 
troop press on, urge on with words like goads ; the hind- 
most two chase on with mordant outcries upon instances of 
Sloth. 1 Nothing is said of any prayers of these athletes ; 
they are at last dismissed upwards with the words, /Blessed 
are they that mourn, for their souls shall be queens of con- 
solation.' : 

From this point extends the region of Love excessive. 

Terrace V. is occupied by the Avaricious, and also by 
the Prodigal ; indeed every one of the Terraces is stated to 
belong to two opposite classes, though here alone is this 
circumstance dwelt on. Ecosttate, extended, motionless 

Seep. 51. 

n8 Terrace V. Avarice: VI. Gluttony. 

these earth-idolizers lie along the earth; bound hand and 
foot because that earth limed their energies away from all 
the work they should have done for Heaven ; eyes merged 
within that earth, because while living on it they would 
raise those eyes no higher. Their chastisement is expressly 
said to be as severe as any on the Mount ; what indeed 
should be sorer to affections set on Heaven than eyes 
that cannot choose but grovel ? * My soul cleaveth unto 
the dust ' is their sighing plaint ; while now loud, now low, 
they eulogize by day the Poor and the Liberal, and de- 
nounce the Avaricious by night. And their emancipation 
blesses those that ' thirst after justice.' 

Terrace VI. famishes Gluttons in the midst of plenty. 
During their ceaseless perambulation two trees, planted 
probably at opposite spots, keep torturing them with fruit- 
less cravings. The first tree is the banquet of Tantalus ; in 
form like a pine, but with head broadening upwards that 
none may climb; its apples temptingly odorous; its top- 
most crown of foliage laved ever by a jet of clearest water 
streaming upon it from a fount springing high up in the 
rock-wall. The smell is of virtue to excite appetite in the 
utmost possible degree : but still as the hungering thirsting 
Shades draw nigh a voice issues from the boughs, denying 
them the feast, and setting before them examples of Temper- 
ance. The second tree is reared from a sprig of the Tree 
of Knowledge ; but neither here may cries and outstretched 
hands prevail to obtain one single fruit of the plenteous 
heavy crop ; the voice amid the leaves again forbids the 
supplicants, and scares them away with instances of 
Gluttony. Unrecognizable in their emaciation these peni- 
tents keep their baffled fast, yet chant their tearful vow. 

Terrace VIL Lascivi 

' Thou shalt open my lips, O Lord ; ' till afl&n^fi-^hey too 
are blessed as grace-illumined to hunger no more than in 
just measure. 

Terrace VII. the last is a furnace ; perhaps through 
the Fire of this Elemental Sphere manifesting itself at this 
point in visible sensible flame proceeding from the rock- 
wall, and only so far blown back by a wind from the edge 
as to leave clear a passage barely wide enough for one 
exceeding circumspect to walk along unscorched and un- 
precipitated. Two processions of penitents, going contrary 
ways within the fire, while apart sing low the hymn ' Summse 
Deus clementiae,' 1 wherein Chastity is besought, and pro- 
claim aloud examples of that virtue ; then at each succes- 
sive encounter embrace and pass on unlingering, crying 
shame as they separate on instances of Lasciviousness : 
till cleansed they are sped upwards with the Angelic valedic- 
tion, 'Blessed are the pure in heart.' 

From this point Purgatory is no more. As impeccable 
its holy prisoners have entered upon it, so immovable in 
the set purpose of making satisfaction to One supremely 
loved they have endured it unconstrained. Hence the 
Wrathful have needfully kept within their smoke, the 
Lascivious within their fire; hence the Slothful have raced 
on even in seeming discourtesy to a guest, the Avaricious 
cut short pleasant discourse to weep, the Gluttonous sought 
once and again the trees of emptiness. But a change 
comes at last like a flood upon the will ; the craving for 
agony is satiated ; the Soul leaps up free for its beatitude. 
Nature and Grace respond throughout the Sphere of Fire : 
the Mount trembles sympathetic ; Gloria in Excelsis goes 

1 The Matins Hymn for Saturday. 

1 20 The Soul enfranchised. 

up like incense from the whole world of Prisoners of 

One more ladder is scaled who shall say whether with 
feet or wings ? And lo the indefectible Soul, having with a 
great sum obtained this freedom, stands on the borders of 
its redeemed, its reconquered inheritance, the Eden and 
the Heaven whence it shall go out no more. 


E poi vedrai color che son contenti 
Nel fuoco. 

And thou shalt then see those whq are content 

Within the fire. 

Inf. i. 118, 119. 

DANTE with Virgil, issuing from within the Earth at 
earliest dawn, as seems most likely, of Easter Day, 1 
stood on the low flat shore of the Western Island. 

Sweet color of the oriental sapphire, 
That was upgathered in the cloudless aspect 
Of the pure air, as far as the first circle, 

Unto mine eyes did recommence delight 
Soon as I issued forth from the dead air, 
Which had with sadness filled mine eyes and breast. 

The beauteous planet, that to love incites, 
Was making all the orient to laugh, 
Veiling the Fishes that were in her escort. 

To the right hand I turned, and fixed my mind 
Upon the other pole, and saw four stars 
Ne'er seen before save by the primal people. 

Rejoicing in their flamelets seemed the heaven. 
O thou septentrional and widowed site, 
Because thou art deprived of seeing these ! 

1 Cayley, note on Inf. xxxiv. 105. 

122 Cato questions the Pilgrims : 

When from regarding them I had withdrawn, 
Turning a little to the other pole, 
There where the Wain had disappeared already, 

I saw beside me an old man alone, 

Worthy of so much reverence in his look, 
That more owes not to father any son. 

A long beard and with white hair intermingled 
He wore, in semblance like unto the tresses, 
Of which a double list fell on his breast. 

The rays of the four consecrated stars 
Did so adorn his countenance with light, 
That him I saw as were the sun before him. 

* Who are you ? ye who, counter the blind river, 
Have fled away from the eternal prison?' 
Moving those venerable plumes, he said : 

4 Who guided you ? or who has been your lamp 
In issuing forth out of the night profound, 
That ever black makes the infernal valley ? 

The laws of the abyss, are they thus broken ? 

Or is there changed in Heaven some counsel new, 
That being damned ye come unto my crags ? ' 

Then did my Leader lay his grasp upon me, 

And with his words, and with his hands and signs, 
Reverent he made in me my knees and brow ; 

Then answered him : ' I came not of myself ; 
A Lady from Heaven descended, at whose prayers 
I aided this one with my company. 

But since it is thy will more be unfolded 
Of our condition, how it truly is, 
Mine cannot be that this should be denied thee. 

This one has never his last evening seen, 
But by his folly was so near to it 
That very little time was there to turn. 

As I have said, I unto him was sent 

is satisfied with Virgil's reply. 123 

To rescue him, and other way was none 
Than this to which I have myself betaken. 

I Ve shown him all the people of perdition, 
And now those Spirits I intend to show 
Who purge themselves beneath thy guardianship. 

How I have brought him would be long to tell thee. 
Virtue descendeth from on high that aids me 
To lead him to behold thee and to hear thee. 

Now may it please thee to vouchsafe his coming ; 
He seeketh Liberty, which is so dear, 
As knoweth he who life for her refuses. 

Thou know'st it ; since, for her, to thee not bitter 
Was death in Utica, where thou didst leave 
The vesture, that will shine so, the great day. 

By us the eternal edicts are not broken ; 

Since this one lives, and Minos binds not me ; 
But of that circle I, where are the chaste 

Eyes of thy Marcia, who in looks still prays thee, 

holy breast, to hold her as thine own ; 
For her love, then, incline thyself to us. 

Permit us through thy sevenfold realm to go ; 

1 will take back this grace from thee to her, 
If to be mentioned there below thou deignest.' 

* Marcia so pleasing was unto mine eyes 
While I was on the other side,' then said he, 
' That every grace she wished of me I granted ; 

Now that she dwells beyond the evil river, 
She can no longer move me, by that law 
Which, when I issued forth from there, was made. 

But if a Lady of Heaven do move and rule thee, 
As thou dost say, no flattery is needful ; 
Let it suffice thee that for her thou ask me. 

Go, then, and see thou gird this one about 

With a smooth rush, and that thou wash his face, 

1 24 Dante cleansed from stains. 

So that thou cleanse away all stain therefrom, 

For 't were not fitting that the eye o'ercast 
By any mist should go before the first 
Angel, who is of those of Paradise. 

This little island, round about its base 

Below there, yonder, where the billow beats it, 
Doth rushes bear upon its washy ooze ; 

No other plant that putteth forth the leaf, 
Or that doth indurate, can there have life, 
Because it yieldeth not unto the shocks. 

Thereafter be not this way your return ; 

The sun, which now is rising, will direct you 
To take the mount by easier ascent.' 

With this he vanished ; and I raised me up 
Without a word, and wholly drew myself 
Unto my guide, and turned mine eyes to him. 

And he began : ' Son, follow thou my steps ; 
Let us turn back, for on this side declines 
The plain unto its lower boundaries.' 

The dawn was vanquishing the matin hour 
Which fled before it, so that from afar 
I recognized the trembling of the sea. 

Along the solitary plain we went 

As one who unto the lost road returns, 
And till he finds it seems to go in vain. 

As soon as we were come to where the dew 
Fights with the sun, and, being in a part 
Where shadow falls, little evaporates, 

Both of his hands upon the grass outspread 
In gentle manner did my Master place ; 
Whence I, who of his action was aware, 

Extended unto him my tearful cheeks ; 

There did he make in me uncovered wholly 
That hue which Hell had covered up in me. 

The first Angel is seen. I2 5 

Then came we down upon the desert shore 

Which never yet saw navigate its waters 

Any that afterward had known return. 
There he begirt me as the other pleased ; 

marvellous ! for even as he culled 

The humble plant, such it sprang up again 

Suddenly there where he uprooted it. 

Pur. i. 13-136. 

The sun was rising : when behold another marvel. 

We still were on the border of the sea, 
Like people who are thinking of their road, 
Who go in heart, and with the body stay ; 

And lo ! as when, upon the approach of morning, 
Through the gross vapors Mars grows fiery red 
Down in the West upon the ocean floor, 

Appeared to me may I again behold it ! 
A light along the sea so swiftly coming, 
Its motion by no flight of wing is equalled ; 

From which when I a little had withdrawn 

Mine eyes, that I might question my Conductor, 
Again I saw it brighter grown and larger. 

Then on each side of it appeared to me 

1 knew not what of white, and underneath it 
Little by little there came forth another. 

My master yet had uttered not a word 

While the first whiteness into wings unfolded ; 
But when he clearly recognized the pilot, 

He cried : ' Make haste, make haste to bow the knee ! 
Behold the Angel of God ! fold thou thy hands ! 
Henceforward shalt thou see such officers ! 

See how he scorneth human arguments, 

So that nor oar he wants, nor other sail 

Than his own wings, between so distant shores. 

i 26 The landing of the Shades. 

See how he holds them pointed up to Heaven, 
Fanning the air with the eternal pinions, 
That do not moult themselves like mortal hair! ' 

Then as still nearer and more near us came 
The Bird Divine, more radiant he appeared, 
So that, near by, the eye could not endure him, 

But down I cast it ; and he came to shore 
With a small vessel, very swift and light, 
So that the water swallowed naught thereof. 

Upon the stern stood the Celestial Pilot ; 
Beatitude seemed written in his face, 
And more than a hundred Spirits sat within. 

1 In exitu Israel de jEgypto / ' 

They chanted a'l together in one voice, 
With whatso in that psalm is after written. 

Then made he sign of holy rood upon them, 
Whereat all cast themselves upon the shore, 
And he departed swiftly as he came. 

II. 10-51. 

The newly landed troop first gazed around in perplexity, 
then seeing two strangers asked the way, but of course in 
vain. Dante's breathing, as revealing him to be alive, next 
excited their wondering interest, and anon one pressed for- 
ward to embrace him, but could not be embraced in turn 
thrice the clasping hands met behind the aerial body, 
thrice returned empty to the embracer's breast. This 
Shade was his courteous and amiable friend Casella, a con- 
summate Florentine musician in whose singing he had been 
wont to take delight. At his request now to have that 
delight renewed, a Canzone of his own was commenced 
\Mith surpassing sweetness by Casella, and all, even the 
philosophic Virgil, stood entranced to hear. But not for 

Virgil casts no shadow. i 2 7 

long : the rigid Warden Cato with one sharp rebuke 
chased away his charges towards the Mount, and conveyed 
to Virgil a hint quickly applied. 

He seemed to me within himself remorseful ; 
O noble conscience, and without a stain, 
How sharp a sting is trivial fault to thee ! 

III. 7-9. 

When at length the two Pilgrims felt free somewhat to 
slacken their hurried steps, Dante, as yet inexperienced in 
a daylight world of ghosts, and therefore startled to notice 
no shadow but his*, own cast on the ground, looked round in 
sudden anxiety. 

1 Why dost thou still mistrust ? ' my Comforter 

Began to say to me turned wholly round ; 

* Dost thou not think me with thee, and that I guide thee ? 
'Tis evening there already where is buried 

The body within which I cast a shadow ; 

'T is from Brundusium ta'en, and Naples has it 
Now if in front of me no shadow fall, 

Marvel not at it more than at the heavens, 

Because one ray impedeth not another. 
To suffer torments, both of cold and heat, 

Bodies like this that Power provides, Which wills 

That how It works be not unveiled to us. 
Insane is he who hopeth that our reason 

Can traverse the illimitable way, 

Which the One Substance in Three Persons follows! 
Mortals, remain contented at the Quia; 1 

For if ye had been able to see all, 

1 ' Be satisfied with knowing that a thing is, without asking why it 
is. These were distinguished in scholastic language as the Demon- 
stratio quia, and the Demonstratio propter quid? 

1 2 8 Ma nfred King of Nap les 

No need there were for Mary to give birth; 

And ye have seen desiring without fruit, 

Those whose desire would have been quieted, 
Which evermore is given them for a grief. 

I speak of Aristotle and of Plato, 
And many others ; ' and here bowed his head, 
And more he said not, and remained disturbed. 

in. 22-45. 

By this time both stood at the foot of the mountain ; the 
ascent going up so sheer above them that nothing short of 
wings would serve the turn. As they mused and searched 
for a practicable slope, a troop of Souls were seen in slowest 
movement more than a mile off; but the Poets hastening 
towards them had soon diminished this distance to a stone's- 
throw. Then the sight of a human shadow excited for 
the first time the amazement with which it was to be again 
and again greeted : this amazement removed, the Shades 
directed their guests in the way. As they walked along one 
made himself known as Manfred King of Naples and Sicily, 
grandson of the Empress Constance ; he did not call him- 
self son of the Emperor Frederick II., probably because 
aware that this last was entombed in the City of Dis, where 
we saw him with Farinata and Cavalcante. 1 Manfred had 
been slain at Benevento in battle for his throne against 
Charles of Anjou ; and now, after requesting Dante to 
obtain for him the prayers of his daughter Constance, widow 
of Peter III. of Aragon and mother of the reigning Kings 
of Aragon and Sicily, he told of his own death and burial : 
he had at first been interred by order of his victorious rival 
at the foot of the bridge of Benevento, and a great pile of 

1 See page 76. 

tells of his death and burial. 129 

stones heaped on his grave ; but it is said that afterwards, 
by command of Pope Clement V., the Bishop of Cosenza 
removed his body to the banks of the River Verde, on the 
Neapolitan frontier. His own words are : 

After I had my body lacerated 

By these two mortal stabs, I gave myself 
Weeping to Him, Who willingly doth pardon. 

Horrible my iniquities had been ; 

But Infinite Goodness hath such ample arms, 
That It receives whatever turns to It. 

Had but Cosenza's pastor, who in chase 
Of me was sent by Clement at that time, 
In God read understandingly this page, 

The bones of my dead body still would be 
At the bridge-head, near unto Benevento, 
Under the safeguard of the heavy cairn. 

Now the rain bathes and moveth them the wind, 
Beyond the realm, almost beside the Verde, 
Where he transported them with tapers quenched. 

By malison of theirs is not so lost 
Eternal Love, that It cannot return, 
So long as hope has anything of green. 

True is it, who in contumacy dies 

Of Holy Church, though penitent at last, 
Must wait upon the outside of this bank 

Thirty times told the time that he has been 
In his presumption, unless such decree 
Shorter by means of righteous prayers become. 

See now if thou hast power to make me happy, 
By making known unto my good Costanza 
How thou hast seen me, and this ban beside ; 

For those on earth can much advance us here. 

ill. 118-145. 

130- The steep ascent. 

In his absorbed attention to Manfred's words Dante had 
forgotten all else ; but soon after 9 A. M. the friendly Shades 
with one voice indicated the sole accessible path, narrower 
than such a breach in a hedge as might be stopped with one 
fork-load of brambles, and steeper than probably the very 
steepest mountain-passes Dante had seen in Italy. 

One climbs Sanleo and descends in Noli, 
And mounts the summit of Bismantova, 
With feet alone ; but here one needs mi^st fly ; 

With the swift pinions and the plumes I say 
Of great desire, conducted after him 
Who gave me hope, and made a light for me. 

We mounted upward through the rifted rock, 
And on each side the border pressed upon us, 
And feet and hands the ground beneath required. 

iv. 25-33. 

Thus did the Pilgrims manage to struggle to the open 
mountain-side, and thence to the first stage of the winding 
terrace ; whereon at length they sat down to rest, looking 
seawards. Virgil as usual turned the time to account by 
explaining some astronomical phenomena of this Antipodal 
Hemisphere, and was just comforting his disciple with a 
prospect of easier ascents in the sky-veiled heights and of 
final rest at the top, when a voice near them saying, ' Per- 
haps you may want to sit down before that,' made them 
turn and draw towards a rocky mass till then unnoticed. 
In its shade were seated a group of very lazy-looking Ghosts, 
lingering out a time corresponding to that of their negligent 
delay of conversion. One with his arms round his knees 
and his face between them had been the speaker Belacqua, 
an acquaintance concerning whose salvation Dante had been 

Belacqua. 131 

much in doubt, and who now struck into the conversation 
in a tone not free from levity. 

His sluggish attitude and his curt words 
A little unto laughter moved my lips ; 
Then I began : * Belacqua, I grieve not 

For thee henceforth ; but tell me, wherefore seated 
In this place art thou ? Waitest thou an escort? 
Or has thy usual habit seized upon thee ?' 

And he : * O brother, what 's the use of climbing? 
Since to my torment would not let me go 
The Angel of God, who sitteth at the gate. 

First Heaven must needs so long revolve me round 
Outside thereof, as in my life it did, 
Since the good sighs I to the end postponed, 

Unless, ere that, some prayer may bring me aid 
Which rises from a heart that lives in grace: 
What profit others that in Heaven are heard not ? ' 

Meanwhile the Poet was before me mounting, 

And saying : ' Come now ; see the sun has touched 
Meridian, and from the shore the night 

Covers already with her foot Morocco.' 

I had already from those Shades departed, 
And followed in the footsteps of my Guide, 
When from behind, pointing his finger at me, 

One shouted : * See, it seems as if shone not 
The sunshine on the left of him below, 
And like one living seems he to conduct him !' 

Mine eyes I turned at utterance of these words, 
And saw them watching with astonishment 
But me, but me, and the light which was broken ! 

'Why doth thy mind so occupy itself,' 
The Master said, * that thou thy pace dost slacken ? 
What matters it to thee what here is whispered ? 

1 32 Count Buonconte di Montefeltro 

Come after me, and let the people talk ; 

Stand like a steadfast tower, that never wags 
Its top for all the blowing of the winds ; 

For evermore the man in whom is springing 

Thought upon thought, removes from him the mark, 
Because the force of one the other weakens.' 

What could I say in answer but * I come ' ? 
I said it somewhat with that color tinged 
Which makes a man of pardon sometimes worthy. 

iv. 121-139. v - 1-21. 

The next troop was of some who being while yet uncon- 
verted smitten with a violent death-stroke, had in their few 
remaining moments been enlightened to repent and to 
forgive. Among these was Count Buonconte di Monte- 
feltro, son of that Count Guido whom we already know, 1 
and with whose history his own strikingly contrasts. Buon- 
conte had been slain in the battle of Campaldino, command- 
ing on the Ghibelline side ; and Dante, in that battle his 
Guelph opponent, meeting him here eagerly inquired, 

* What violence or what chance 
Led thee astray so far from Campaldino 
That never has thy sepulture been known ? ' 
* Oh,' he replied, 'at Casentino's foot 
A river crosses named Archiano, born 
Above the Hermitage in Apennine. 
. There where the name thereof becometh void 

Did I arrive, pierced through and through the throat, 
Fleeing on foot, and bloodying the plain ; 
There my sight lost I, and my utterance 
Ceased in the name of Mary, and thereat 
I fell, and tenantless my flesh remained. 

1 See page 87. 

in repentance and after death. 1 33 

Truth will I speak, repeat it to the living ; 
God's Angel took me up, and he of Hell 
Shouted : " O thou from Heaven, why dost thou rob me ? 

Thou bearest away the eternal part of him, 

For one poor little tear, that takes him from me ; 
But with the rest I '11 deal in other fashion ! " 

Well knowest thou how in the air is gathered 
That humid vapor which to water turns, 
Soon as it rises where the cold doth grasp it. 

He joined that evil will, which aye seeks evil, 
To intellect, and moved the mist and wind 
By means of power, which his own nature gave ; 

Thereafter, when the day was spent, the valley 
From Pratomagno to the great yoke covered 
With fog, and made the heaven above intent, 

So that the pregnant air to water changed ; 
Down fell the rain, and to the gullies came 
Whate'er of it earth tolerated not ; 

And as it mingled with the mighty torrents, 
Towards the royal river with such speed 
It headlong rushed, that nothing held it back. 

My frozen body near unto its outlet 

The robust Archian found, and into Arno 
Thrust it, and loosened from my breast the cross 

I made of me, when agony o'ercame me ; 

It rolled me on the banks and on the bottom ; 
Then with its booty covered and begirt me.' 

v. 91-129. 

To this class of the slain by violence belonged also the 
Pisan Farinata degli Scornigiani, whose death is variously 
attributed to Beccio da Caprona and to Count Ugolino 
della Gherardesca, whom we saw in Hell. 1 It is said that 

1 See page 97. 

1 34 Virgil discourses concerning Prayer. 

Farinata's father, here expressly called ' the good Marzucco,' 
a Minorite friar, in company with the other friars attended 
his funeral, and entreated the whole family to abstain from 
vengeance. 1 All this band of Spirits spoke like Belacqua 
of prayers on earth as their sole possible succor, and un- 
like him besought Dante to procure them that succor; 
thus suggesting to his mind a difficulty which his Master 
professed not confidently to solve. 

As soon as I was free from all those Shades 
Who only prayed that some one else may pray, 
So as to hasten their becoming holy, 

Began I : ' It appears that thou deniest, 
O light of mine, expressly in some text, 2 
That orison can bend decree of Heaven ; 

And ne'ertheless these people pray for this. 
Might then their expectation bootless be ? 
Or is to me thy saying not quite clear ? ' 

And he to me : ' My writing is explicit, 
And not fallacious is the hope of these, 
If with sane intellect 't is well regarded ; 

For top of judgment doth not vail itself, 8 
Because the fire of love fulfils at once 
What he must satisfy who here installs him. 

And there, where I affirmed that proposition, 
Defect was not amended by a prayer, 
Because the prayer from God was separate. 

3 Fraticelli and Longfellow, Pur, vi. 17, 18. Various accounts how- 
ever are given by different authorities. 

2 ' In jEneid vi : " Cease to hope that the decrees of the gods are 
to be changed by prayers." ' 

3 The highest point of God's judgment: does not bend. 

Sordello of Mantua. 135 

Verily, in so deep a questioning 

Do not decide, unless she tell it tbee, 
Who light 'twixt truth and intellect shall be. 

I know not if thou understand; I speak 
Of Beatrice ; her shalt thou see above, 
Smiling and happy, on this mountain's top.' 

vi. 25-48. 

Already the way was felt to be easier, and Dante in- 
spired by the thought of Beatrice was craving more rapid 
progress, when suddenly a Shade keeping solitary watch 
caught Virgil's eye ; and a request for guidance was an- 
swered with an inquiry respecting the Pilgrims' country and 
condition. The mere name of Mantua instantly quickened 
indifference into interest and love, for this Shade was the 
Mantuan Poet-Podesta Sordello ; J the name of Virgil awed 
love into reverence. The reiterated request to be shown 
the shortest way to Purgatory proper now elicited the in- 
formation that in the rapidly supervening darkness it would 

he impns<ribk JLdLf!2 ~J an( ^ t ^ ie we l come off 61 " f m " 
troduction into a nocturnal sojourn tenanted by Shades 
whose acquaintance would give pleasure. 

Little had we withdrawn us from that place, 
When I perceived the mount was hollowed out 
In fashion as the valleys here are hollowed. 

1 It seems to me on the whole most probable that Sordello was both 
poet and podesta. Dante (De Volg. El. i. 15) speaks of Sordello of 
Mantua as a poet ; and all those with whom he is here associated are 
Princes and Rulers. Quadrio (Storia d'ogni Poesia, ii. 130), though 
without giving his authorities, adopts the same conclusion as I have 
done respecting this vexed question. (See Longfellow on Pur. vi. 74.) 

1 36 The Dell of Princes. 

' Thitherward,' said that Shade, ' will we repair, 
Where of itself the hill-side makes a lap, 
And there for the new day will we await,' 

'Twixt hill and plain there was a winding path 
Which led us to the margin of that dell, 
Where dies the border more than half away. 

Gold and fine silver, and scarlet and pearl-white, 
The Indian wood resplendent and serene, 
Fresh emerald the moment it is broken, 

By herbage and by flowers within that hollow 
Planted, each one in color would be vanquished, 
As by its greater vanquished is the less. 

Nor in that place had nature painted only, 
But of the sweetness of a thousand odors 
Made there a mingled fragrance and unknown. 

' Salve Reginaj on the green and flowers 
There seated, singing, Spirits I beheld, 
Which were not visible outside the valley. 

vn. 64 84. 

These Spirits, of whom Sordello himself was one, were 
Princes and Rulers who for love of things not in them- 
selves sinful had postponed conversion or been negligent 
of good. Long Dante gazed from above as his new friend 
pointed out renowned Shade after Shade : Rodolph of 
Hapsburg comforted by his chief opponent Ottocar of 
Bohemia; Philippe le Hardi in consultation with Henry 
III. of Navarre, the one father, the other father-in-law, to 
the reigning ' Pest of France,' Philippe le Bel ; Peter III. 
of Aragon singing in accord with his quondam adversary 
Charles I. of Naples. And as the sight of these Princes 
suggested the thought of those who now occupied their 
thrones, Sordello gave utterance to the reflection 

The Compline hymn is sung. 137 

Not oftentimes upriseth through the branches 
The probity of man ; and this He wills 
Who gives it, so that we may ask of Him. 1 

vn. 121-123. 

Seated alone was Henry III. of England, ' the King of the 
simple life ; ' his posterity is expressly excepted from the 
censure passed on that of his associates. 

We shall find Dante recur in the Paradise to this subject 
of the degeneracy of sons from fathers ; 2 it seems to have 
greatly occupied his mind. But 

'T was .now the hour that turneth back desire 
In those who sail the sea, and melts the heart, 
The day they 've said to their sweet friends farewell, 

And the new pilgrim penetrates with love, 
If he doth hear from far away a bell 
That seemeth to deplore the dying day, 

When I began to make of no avail 

My hearing, and to watch one of the Souls 
Uprisen, that begged attention with its hand. 

It joined and lifted upward both its palms, 
Fixing its eyes upon the orient, 
As if it said to God, Naught else I care for.' 

' Te lucis ante,"* 3 so devoutly issued 

Forth from its mouth, and with such dulcet notes, 
It made me issue forth from my own mind. 
, And then the others, sweetly and devoutly, 

Accompanied it through all the hymn entire, 
Having their eyes on the supernal wheels. 

1 I think the sense of the last line and a half is rather : ' this He 
wills Who gives it, in order that it may be ascribed to Him.' 

2 See page 229. 

8 The first words of the Compline hymn, which contains a prayer 
against the Enemy. 

1 38 The descent of two Angels. 

Here, Reader, fix thine eyes well on the {ruth, 

For now indeed so subtile is the veil, 

Surely to penetrate within is easy. 
I saw that army of the gentle-born 

Thereafterward in silence upward gaze, 

As if in expectation, pale and humble ; 
And from on high come forth and down descend, 

I saw two Angels with two flaming swords, 

Truncated and deprived of their points. 
Green as the little leaflets just now born 

Their garments were, which, by their verdant pinions 

Beaten and blown abroad, they trailed behind. 
One just above us came to take his station, 

And one descended to the opposite bank, 

So that the people were contained between them. 
Clearly in them discerned I the blond head ; 

But in their faces was the eye bewildered, 

As faculty confounded by excess. 
* From Mary's bosom both of them have come,' 

Sordello said, * as guardians of the valley 

Against the serpent, that will come anon/ 

vin. 1-39. 

Descending now into the dell with the courteous guide 
Dante recognized a friend, the Sardinian Judge Nino de' 
Visconti, who seized the opportunity of sending to ask 
the innocent prayers of his little daughter Giovanna. Yet 
almost as he spoke, 

My greedy eyes still wandered up to Heaven, 

Still to that point where slowest are the stars, 

Even as a wheel the nearest to its axle. 
And my Conductor : ' Son, what dost thou gaze at 

Up there ?' And I to him : ' At those three torches 

With which this hither pole is all on fire.' 

The Serpent' s flight. Dante borne upward. 1 39 

And he to me : ' The four resplendent stars 

Thou sawest this morning are down yonder low, 
And these have mounted up to where those were.' 

As he was speaking, to himself Sordello 

Drew him, and said, ' Lo there our Adversary ! ' 
And pointed with his finger to look thither. 

Upon the side on which the little valley 
No barrier hath, a serpent was ; perchance 
The same which gave to Eve the bitter food. 

'Twixt grass and flowers came on the evil streak, 
Turning at times its head about, and licking 
Its back like to a beast that smooths itself. 

I did not see, and therefore cannot say 
How the celestial falcons 'gan to move, 
But well I saw that they were both in motion. 

Hearing the air cleft by their verdant wings, 
The serpent fled, and round the Angels wheeled, 

Up to their stations flying back alike. 

vin. 85-108. 

After converse prolonged through the night, towards 
dawn of Easter Monday the only Flesh among all these 
Spirits dropped asleep ; dreamed of JoveJsJEagle ..swooping 
^ojsrn^and carrying him up into the scorching Fire-Sphere ; 
and awoke, but not where his sleep had fallen upon him. 

Only my Comforter was at my side, 
And now the sun was more than two hours high, 
And turned towards the sea-shore was my face. 

* Be not intimidated,' said my Lord, 
1 Be reassured, for all is well with us ; 
Do not restrain, but put forth all thy strength. 

Thou hast at length arrived at Purgatory ; 
See there the cliff that closes it around ; 
See there the entrance, where it seems disjoined. 

140 Liicia lays Dante before the Gate. 

Whilom at dawn, which doth precede the day, 

When inwardly thy spirit was asleep 

Upon the flowers that deck the land below, 
There came a Lady and said : "J_a,pi Lur^a. ; 

Let me take this one up, who is asleep : 

So will I make his journey easier for him." 
Sordello and the other noble shapes 

Remained ; she took thee, and, as day grew bright, 

Upward she came, and I upon her footsteps. 
She laid thee here ; and first her beauteous eyes 

That open entrance pointed out to me ; 

Then she and sleep together went away.' 
In guise of one whose doubts are reassured, 

And who to confidence his fear doth change, 

After the truth has been discovered to him, 
So did I change ; and when without disquiet 

My Leader saw me, up along the cliff 

He moved, and I behind him, tow'rd the height. 
Reader, thou seest well how I exalt 

My theme, and therefore if with greater art 

I fortify it, marvel not thereat. 
Nearer approached we, and were in such place, 

That there, where first appeared to me a rift 

Like to a crevice that disparts a wall, 
I saw a portal, and three stairs beneath, 

Diverse in color, to go up to it, 

And a gate-keeper, who yet spake no word. 
And as I opened more and more mine eyes, 

I saw him seated on the highest stair, 

Such in the face that I endured it not. 
And in his hand he had a naked sword, 

Which so reflected back the sunbeams tow'rds us, 

That oft in vain I lifted up mine eyes. 
' Tell it from where you are, what is 't you wish ? ' 

The graving of the seven P's. 1 4 1 

Began he to exclaim ; ' Where is the escort ? 
Take heed your coming hither harm you not ! ' 

' A Lady of Heaven, with these things conversant,' 
My Master answered him, ' but even now 
Said to us, " Thither go ; there is the portal." ' 

* And may she speed your footsteps in all good,' 
Again began the courteous janitor ; 
* Come forward then unto these stairs of ours.' 

Thither did we approach ; and the first stair 
Was marble white, so polished and so smooth, 
I mirrote^Lnry^elf therein as I appear. 

The second, tinct of deeper hue than perse, 
Was of a calcined and uneven stone, 
Cracked all asunder lengthwise and across. 

The third, that uppermost rests massively, 
Porphyry seemed to me, as flaming red 
As blood that from a vein is spurting forth. 

Both of his feet was holding upon this 

The Angel of God, upon the threshold seated, 
Which seemed to me a stone of diamond. 

Along the three stairs upward with good-will 
Did my Conductor draw me, saying : Ask 
Humbly that he the fastening may undo.' 

Devoutly at the holy feet I cast me, * 

For mercy's sake besought that he would open, 
But first upon myj^reast three times... Lsmote. 

Seven P'sjirjpnjmyjEorehea(J he. Described 
With the sword's point, and, * Take heed that thou wash 
These wounds, when thou shalt be within,' he said. 

ix. 43-114. 

This sevenfold graving of P (the initial of Peccatum = 
Sin) signifies the .bringing out by reproof of the distinct 
marks, already too surely branded within, of the seven 

142 The Gate unlocked and passed. 

Capital Sins, to be then effaced from body and soul by the 
works of satisfaction enjoined as sacramental penance. It 
is noteworthy that no allusion is made to these P's as traced 
on the forehead of any Shade, and yet none expresses sur- 
prise at seeing them on Dante's. 

Ashes, or earth that dry is excavated, 
Of the same color were with his attire, 
And from beneath it he drew forth two keys 

One was of gold, and the other was of silver ; 
First with the white, and after with the yellow, 
Plied he the door, so that I was content. 

* Whenever faileth either of these keys 
So that it turn not rightly in the lock/ 
He said to us, ' this entrance doth not open. 

More precious one is, but the other needs 
More art and intellect ere it unlock, 
For it is that which doth the knot unloose. 

From Peter I have them ; and he bade me err 
Rather in opening than in keeping shut, 
If people but fall down before my feet.' 

Then pushed the portals of the sacred door, 
Exclaiming: * Enter ; but I give you warning 
That forth returns whoever looks behind.' 

ix. 115-132. 

The Gate opened,^:. fieum^Jaudamus resounded from 
within ; the Gate passed, more than an hour was occupied 
in the zigzag ascent : till at about 10 A. M. one Pilgrim 
weary, and both uncertain of the way, stood on the First 
Terrace of Purgatory, and stood there alone. 

Thereon our feet had not been moved as yet, 
When I perceived the embankment round about, 

The sculptured examples of Humility. 143 

Which all right of ascent had interdicted, 

To be of marble white, and so adorned 
With sculptures, that not only Polycletus, 
But Nature's self, had there been put to shame. - J 

The Angel, who came down to earth with tidings 
Of peace, that had been wept for many a year, 
And opened Heaven from its long interdict, 

In front of us appeared so truthfully 
There sculptured in a gracious attitude, 
He did not seem an image that is silent. 

One would have sworn that he was saying ' Ave^; 
For she was there in effigy portrayed 
Who turned the key to ope the exalted love, 

And in her mien this language had impressed, 
*Ecce ancilla Dei? as distinctly 

As any figure stamps itself in wax. 

x. 28-45. 

Many more sculptured examples of Humility followed 
along the bank; and in all, spoken words were after a 
marvellous fashion rendered sensible to the eye. 

He who on no new thing has ever looked 
Was the Creator of this visible languageV"" 
Novel to us, for here it is not found. 

While I delighted me in contemplating 
The images of such humility, 
And dear to look on for their Maker's sake, 

f Behold, upon this side, but rare they make 

Their steps,' the Poet murmured, ' many people ; 
These will direct us to the lofty stairs.'-^' 

Mine eyes, that in beholding were intent 

To see new things, of which they curious are, 
In turning round towards him were not slow. 

But still I wish not, Reader, thou shouldst swerve 

1 4 4 The Pen it en is for Pride : 

From thy good purposes, because thou hearest 
How God ordaineth that the debt be paid ; 
Attend not to the fashion of the torment, 

Think of what follows ; think that at the worst 
It cannot reach beyond the mighty sentence. 1 

x. 94-1 1 1. 

At first sight it may seem surprising that after so awfully 
setting before his reader the pains of Hell incurred by jicrt 
forming or not fulfilling good purposes, Dante should fear 
turning him aside from any such purpose by setting before 
him his liability, notwithstanding, to the pains of Purgatory. 
But as we have seen, 2 the subject of the Cantica is jiot 
restricted to the purgatipjn of Souls after death ; it likewise 
exhibits the cleansing frornsm_jmdtl^^ of 

"good for evil habits in life. The alternative presented 
will not therefore be at first that between Hell and Purga- 
tory, but that between the ease anxL-^leajures of Vice on 
the one hand, and the toils and sufferings of^tesistingVice 
on the other. 

' Master,' began I, that which I behold 

Moving towards us seems to me not persons, 
And what I know not, so in sight I waver.' 

And he to me : * The grievous quality 

Of this their torment bows them so to earth, 
That my own eyes at first contended with it ; 

But look there fixedly, and disentangle 

By sight what cometh underneath those stones ; 
Already canst thou see how each is stricken.' 

O ye proud Christians ! wretched, weary ones ! 
Who, in the vision of the mind infirm, 

1 The Last Judgment. 2 See p. 112. 

their chastisement and their prayer. 145 

Confidence have in your backsliding 

Do ye not comprehend that we are worms, 
Born to bring forth the angelic butterfly i^ 
That flieth unto j'u^menT^ftFoliirscreeh ? 

Why floats aloft your spirit high in air ? 
Like are ye unto insects undeveloped, 
Even as the worm in whom formation fails ! 

As to sustain a ceiling or a roof, 

In place of corbel, oftentimes a figure 
Is seen to join unto its knees its breast, 

Which makes of the unreal real anguish 
Arise in him who sees it ; fashioned thus 
Beheld I those, when I had ta'en good heed. 

True is it, they were more or less bent down, 
According as they more or less were laden ; 
And he who had most patience in his looks 

Weeping did seem to say, * I can no more ! ' 

1 Our Father, Thou Who dwellest in the heavens, 
Not circumscribed, but from the greater love 
Thou bearest to the first effects on high, 2 

Praised be Thy Name and Thine Omnipotence 
By every creature, as befitting is 
To render thanks to Thy sweet Effluence. 

Come unto us the peace of Thy dominion, 
For unto it we cannot of ourselves, 
If it come not, with all our intellect. 

Even as Thine own Angels of their will 
Make sacrifice to Thee, Hosanna singing, 
So may all men make sacrifice of theirs. 

1 You think to advance by means of pride, whereas in truth you 

2 Not as being confined to place, but as bearing greater love to those 
first and highest creatures who dwell there. 

146 The Proud learning Humility. 

Give unto us this day our daily manna, 
Withouten which in this rough wilderness 
Backward goes he who toils most to advance. 

And even as we the trespass we have suffered 
Pardon in one another, pardon Thou 
Benignly, and regard not,our desert. 

Our virtue, which is easily o'ercome, 
Put not to proof with the old Adversary, 
But Thou from him who spurs it so, deliver. 

This last petition verily, dear Lord, 

Not for ourselves is made, who need it not, 

But for their sake who have remained behind us.' 

x. 112-139. XL 1-24. 

The Souls in Purgatory need jiof to deprecate tempta- 
tion, because so confirmed in grace as to be incapable of 


Thus for themselves and us good furtherance 
Those Shades imploring, went beneath a weight 
Like unto that of which we sometimes dream, 

Unequally in anguish round and round 
And weary all, upon that foremost cornice, 
Purging away the smoke-stains of the world. 

If there good words are always said for us, 
What may not here be said and done for them, 
By those who have a good root to their will ? 

Well may we help them wash away the marks 
That hence they carried, so that clean and light 
They may ascend unto the starry wheels ! 

XI. 25-36. 

Virgil's customary inquiry for a practicable slope was 
courteously answered, though the posture of the Shades, 
made it impossible to feel sure from whom the answer 

Omberto A Idob randeschi, Oderisi d' Agobbio. 147 

came ; but it contained an invitation to accompany the 
toiling procession, and the inviter made himself known as 
the Tuscan Omberto Aldobrandeschi, so hated as to have 
been actually murdered by the Sienese for his family sin, 
pride of birth : now he humbly questioned whether his 
living guest had ever heard his father Guglielmo's name. 

Listening I downward bent my countenance ; 
And one of them, not this one who was speaking, 
Twisted himself beneath the weight that cramps him, 

And looked at me, and knew me, and called out, 
Keeping his eyes laboriously fixed 
On me, who all bowed down was going with them. 

* O,' asked I him, art thou not Oderisi, 

Agobbio's honor, and honor of that art 
Which is in Paris called illuminating ? ' 

* Brother,' said he, 'more laughing are the, leaves 

Touched by the brush of Franco Bolognese ; 

All his the honor now, and mine in part. 
In sooth I had not been so courteous 

While I was living, for the great desire 

Of excellence, on which my heart was bent. 
Here of such pride is paid the forfeiture ; 

And yet I should not be here, were it not 

That, having power to sin, I turned to God. 
O thou vain glory of the human powers, 

How little green upon thy summit lingers, 

If 't be not followed by an age of grossness ! * 
In painting Cimabue thought that he 

Should hold the field, now Giotto has the cry, 

So that the other's fame is growing dim. 

1 How shortlived art thou, except an age of ignorance immediately 
succeed ; for otherwise the next generation surpasses and effaces thee. 

48 Provenzan Salvani. 

So has one Guido from the other taken * 
The glory of our tongue, and he perchance 
Is born, who from the nest shall chase them both. 

Naught is this mundane rumor but a breath 

Of wind, that comes now this way and now that, 
And changes name, because it changes side. 

What fame shalt thou have more, if old peel off 
From thee thy flesh, than if thou hadst been dead 
Before thou left the pappo and the dindi? 

Ere pass a thousand years ? which is a shorter 
Space to the eterne, than twinkling of an eye 
Unto the circle that in heaven wheels slowest.' 

xi. 73-108. 

The sin of Oderisi had been pride of intellect ; that of 
the Shade next before him Proyenzan Salvani prjde of 
dominion ; he had been Podesta of Siena, and unpopular 
as~~such. His death in the battle of Colle having taken 
place no earlier than A. D. 1269, Dante, surprised to find 
him already beyond ^ the Gate_gl.5^Eeter, inquired how his 
due period of detention in Ante-Purgatory had been 
.shortened ; and learned that in his lifetime he had merited 
this grace by a most painful act of voluntary humiliation. 
A friend of his was a war-prisoner of Charles of Anjou, who 
would take no less life-ransom than a sum of ten thousand 
golden florins : and Provenzano, then at the height of his 
glory, had in the garb of a beggar seated himself on a mat 
in a public square of Siena, and had successfully begged of 
the passers-by aid for his friend. 

1 Probably Guido Cavalcanti (see p. 76) from Guido Guinicelli (see 

P- i?7)- 

2 Baby language. 

w : 


The sculptured instances ofi3:~gJ%~-- 149 

Abreast, like oxen going in a yoke, 
I with that heavy-laden Soul went on, 
As long as the sweet pedagogue permitted ; 

But when he said, ' Leave him, and onward pass, 
For here 'tis good that with the sail and oars, 
As much as may be, each push on his barque ; ' 

Upright, as walking wills it, I redressed 

My person, notwithstanding that my thoughts 
Remained within me downcast and abashed. 

I had moved on, and followed willingly 
The footsteps of my Master, and we both 
Already showed how light of foot we were, 

When unto me he said : ' Cast down thine eyes ; 
'T were well for thee, to alleviate the way, 
To look upon the bed beneath thy feet.' 

As, that some memory may exist of them, 
Above the buried dead their tombs in earth 
Bear sculptured on them what they were before ; 

Whence often there we weep for them afresh, 
From pricking of remembrance, which alone 
To the compassionate doth set its spur; 

So saw I there, but of a better semblance 
In point of artifice, with figures covered 
Whate'er as pathway from the mount projects. 

I saw that one who was created noble 
More than all other creatures, down from heaven 
Flaming with lightnings fall upon one side. 

I saw Briareus smitten by the dart 
Celestial, lying on the other side, 
Heavy upon the earth by mortal frost. 

I saw Thymbraeus, 1 Pallas saw, and Mars, 
Still clad in armor round about their father, 

1 Apollo. 

150 Instances of Pride continued. 

Gaze at the scattered members of the giants. 
I saw, at foot of his great labor, Nimrod, 
As if bewildered, looking at the people 
Who had been proud with him in Sennaar. 

O Niobe ! with what afflicted eyes 
Thee I beheld upon the pathway traced, 
Between thy seven and seven children slain ! 

O Saul ! how fallen upon thy proper sword 
Didst thou appear there lifeless in Gilboa, 
That felt thereafter neither rain nor dew ! 

O mad Arachne ! so I thee beheld 

E'en then half spider, sad upon the shreds 
Of fabric wrought in evil hour for thee ! 

O Rehoboam ! no more seems to threaten 
Thine image there ; but full of consternation 
A chariot bears it off, when none pursues ! 

Displayed moreo'er the adamantine pavement 
How unto his own mother made Alcmaeon l 
Costly appear the luckless ornament ; 

Displayed how his own sons did throw themselves 
Upon Sennacherib within the temple, 
And how, he being dead, they left him there; 

Displayed the ruin and the cruel carnage 

That Tomyris wrought, when she to Cyrus said, 

Blood didst thou thirst for, and with blood I glut thee ! ' 

Displayed how routed fled the Assyrians 
After that Holofernes had been slain, 
And likewise the remainder of that slaughter. 

1 ' Amphiaraiis the soothsayer, foreseeing his own death if he went 
to the Theban war, concealed himself to avoid going. His wife Eri- 
phyle, bribed by a " golden necklace set with diamonds," betrayed to 
her brother Adrastus his hiding-place ; and Amphiaraiis, departing, 
charged his son Alcmaeon to kill Eriphyle as soon as he heard of his 

The first P effaced. 151 

I saw there Troy in ashes and in caverns ; 

O Ilion ! thee, how abject and debased. 

Displayed the image that is there discerned ! 
Who e'er of pencil master was or stile, 

That could portray the shades and traits which there 

Would cause each subtile genius to admire ? 
Dead seemed the dead, the living seemed alive ; 

Better than I saw" not who saw the truth, 

All that I trod upon while bowed I went. 
Now wax ye proud, and on with looks uplifted, 

Ye sons of Eve, and bow not down your faces 

So that ye may behold your evil ways ! 

xii. 1-72. 

The way thus beguiled brought Dante all unconscious to 
the noontide hour, and to the point where the liberating 
Angel awaited him. 

Towards us came the being beautiful 
Vested in white, and in his countenance 
Such as appears the tremulous morning star. 

xii. 88-90. 

At the foot of the steep narrow staircase one stroke of 
the Angel's wings effaced from Dante's brow a P ; and the 
blessing was chanted from the Terrace he was leaving 

Ah me ! how different are these entrances 
From the Infernal ! for with anthems here 
One enters, and below with wild laments. 

We now were mounting up the sacred stairs, 
And it appeared to me by far more easy 
Than on the plain it had appeared before. 

Whence I : ' My Master, say, what heavy thing 
Has been uplifted from me, so that hardly 

152 The Penitents for Envy : Safia, 

Aught of fatigue is felt by me in walking ? ' 
He answered : ' When the P's which have remained 

Still on thy face almost obliterate 

Shall wholly, as the first is, be erased, 
Thy feet will be so vanquished by good will, 

That not alone they shall not feel fatigue, 

But urging up will be to them delight.' 

xii. 112-126. 

The cancelling of this first P so greatly deadened all the 
rest] because Pride lies at the root of all other sins J with- 
out it they would have little virulence, nay often no exist- 
ence. And even were this not so, a sinner free from Pride 
would place no bar in the way of correction. 

The Second Terrace reached, in default of any other 
guide Virgil besought direction of the Sun, the type of 
Reason ; then as always in Purgatory turned to the right. 
A mile's walk brought the Travellers to the point where 
aerial voices in rapid succession were proclaiming examples 
of Brotherly Love, the first being the Blessed Virgin's 
words, ' They have no wine ; ' and directly afterwards their 
keen gaze detected the penitents for Envy, whose garment 
rendered it somewhat difficult to distinguish them from the 
wall. Great was Dante's compassion at the sight of their 
pain and blindness, and delicacy of feeling made him 
anxious to give testimony of his presence by speech. 
Leave duly obtained, he conversed awhile with Sapia, a 
lady of Siena, who being banished thence had lived at 
Colle, and when past her thirty-fifth year had through envy 
first prayed for and then in most irreverent words rejoiced 
over the defeat there inflicted by the Florentines on her 
fellow-citizens under Provenzan Salvani. She concluded : 

G^ddo del Duca, Rinieri da Calboli. 153 

' Peace I desired with God at the extreme 
Of my existence, and as yet would not 
My debt have been by penitence discharged, 

Had it not been that in remembrance held me 
Pier Pettignano 1 in his holy prayers, 
Who out of charity was grieved for me. 

But who art thou, that into our conditions 

Questioning goest, and hast thine eyes unbound 
As I believe, and breathing dost discourse ? ' 

' Mine eyes,' I said, ' will yet be here ta'en from me, 
But for short space ; for small is the offence 
Committed by their being turned with envy. 

Far greater is the fear, wherein suspended 
My soul is, of the torment underneath, 
For even now the load down there weighs on me.' 

And she to me : ' Who led thee, then, among us 
Up here, if to return below thou thinkest ? ' 
And I : * He who is with me, and speaks not ; 

And living am I ; therefore ask of me, 
Spirit elect, if thou wouldst have me move 
O'er yonder yet my mortal feet for thee.' 

1 0, this is such a novel thing to hear,' 
She answered, ' that great sign it is God loves thee ; 
Therefore with prayer of thine sometimes assist me. 

And I implore, by what thou most desirest, 
If e'er thou treadest the soil of Tuscany, 
Well with my kindred reinstate my fame.' 

xin. 124-150. 

Two other Shades, Guido del Duca and Rinieri da 
Calboli, then took up the discourse, like Sapia gladly 
acknowledging the special grace bestowed on Dante ; and 
farther exercising charity by grief for the vices of their native 

1 A hermit of Siena. 

154 The second P effaced. 

Romagna and of the Vale of Arno, till at last Guido, desir- 
ing leisure to weep over the pictures he himself had drawn, 
dismissed his listener. 

We were aware that those beloved Souls 

Heard us depart ; therefore, by keeping silent, 
They made us of our pathway confident. 

xiv. 127-129. 

The thunder-voices that condemn the Envious soon made 
themselves heard, Virgil thus commenting upon them : 

* That was the hard curb 
That ought to hold a man within his bounds ; N 

But you take in the bait so that the hook 
Of the old Adversary draws you to him, 
And hence availeth little curb or call. 

The heavens are calling you, and wheel around you, 
Displaying to you their eternal beauties, 
And still your eye is looking on the ground ; 

Whence He, who all discerns, chastises you.' 

xiv. 143-151- 

Then a dazzling brightness told of the Angel's presence ; 
the second P was effaced, the Blessing sung, the staircase 
benignly pointed out and pronounced easier than had yet 
been the case : and the third ascent began, made profitable 
by a dialogue on Envy. Guido in his mournful discourse 
had thus apostrophized mankind : 

O human race ! why dost thou set thy heart 
Where interdict of partnership must be ? 

xiv. 86, 87. 

And the disciple, doubting of his meaning, now thus 
questioned the Master : 

Virgil treats of Envy and Charity. 155 

'What did the Spirit of Romagna mean, 
Mentioning interdict and partnership ? ' 

Whence he to me : * Of his own greatest failing 
He knows the harm ; and therefore wonder not 
If he reprove us, that we less may rue it. 

Because are thither pointed your desires 

Where by companionship each share is lessened, 
Envy doth ply the bellows to your sighs. 

But if the love of the supernal sphere 
Should upwardly direct your aspiration, 
There would not be that fear within your breast ; 

For there, as much the more as one says Our, 
So much the more of good each one possesses, 
And more of charity in that cloister burns.' 

* I am more hungering to be satisfied,' 
I said, ' than if I had before been silent, 
And more of doubt within my mind I gather. 

How can it be, that boon distributed 

The more possessors can more wealthy make 
Therein, than if by few it be possessed ? ' 

And he to me : * Because thou fixest still 
Thy mind entirely upon earthly things, 
Thou pluckest darkness from the very light. 

That Goodness Infinite and Ineffable 
Which is above there, runneth unto love, 
As to a lucid body comes the sunbeam. 

So much It gives Itself as It finds ardor, 
So that as far as charity extends, 
O'er it increases the eternal Valor. 

And the more people thitherward aspire, 

More are there to love well, and more they love there, 
And, as a mirror, one reflects the other. 1 

1 Because thy thought still recurs to earthly goods alone, thou de- 
rivest darkness from the light of my instruction. But God, the Infinite 

156 Examples of Meekness seen in ecstasy. 

And if my reasoning appease thee not, 
Thou shalt see Beatrice ; and she will fully 
Take from thee this and every other longing. 

Endeavor, then, that soon may be extinct, 
As are the two already, the five wounds 
That close themselves again by being painful.' 

Even as I wished to say, ' Thou dost appease me,' 
I saw that I had reached another circle, 
So that my eager eyes made me keep silence. 

There it appeared to me that in a vision 
Ecstatic on a sudden I was rapt, 
And in a temple many persons saw ; 

And at the door a woman, with the sweet 
Behavior of a mother, saying : ' Son, 
Why in this manner hast Thou dealt with us ? 

Lo, sorrowing, Thy father and myself 
Were seeking for Thee ; ' and as here she ceased, 
That which appeared at first had disappeared. 

xv. 44-93. 

Other examples of Meekness followed, presented like 
this in inward vision, such being the mode of Terrace III. ; 
and Virgil's comment was, 

What thou hast seen was that thou mayst not fail 
To ope thy heart unto the waters of peace, 
Which from the eternal fountain are diffused. 

xv. 130-132. 

and Ineffable Good dwelling on high, is attracted by the love of the 
Blessed, even as a ray by a light-reflecting body. He gives Himself 
the more, the more love He finds ; so that the farther charity extends, 
the wider the Eternal Beatific Virtue spreads above it. And the more 
people are intent on that Supreme Vision, the more is present of that 
same Beatific Virtue, and the more love is there ; and as light is reflected 
from mirror to mirror, so love from blessed Soul to Soul. 

The chastisement of Anger. 1 5 7 

It is noticeable that in this and in the Seventh Terrace, 
but not in any other, Dante shared the torment of the peni- 
tents ; in these alone is it of a nature to affect every one 
locally present within its range. He proceeds : 

We passed along, athwart the twilight peering 
Forward as far as ever eye could stretch 
Against the sunbeams serotine and lucent ; 

And lo ! by slow degrees a smoke approached 
In our direction, sombre as the night, 
Nor was there place to hide one's self therefrom. 

This of our eyes and the pure air bereft us. 

Darkness of Hell, and of a night deprived 
Of every planet under a poor sky, 
As much as may be tenebrous with cloud, 

Ne'er made unto my sight so thick a veil, 
As did that smoke which there enveloped us, 
Nor to the feeling of so rough a texture ; 

For not an eye it suffered to stay open ; 
Whereat mine escort, faithful and sagacious, 
Drew near to me and offered me his shoulder. 

E'en as a blind man goes behind his guide, 

Lest he should wander, or should strike against 
Aught that may harm or peradventure kill him, 

So went I through the bitter and foul air, 
Listening unto my Leader, who said only, 
' Look that from me thou be not separated.' 

xv. 139-145. xvi. 1-15. 

This blind leaning on the Guide is a parable of the only 
safe rule during a temptation to Anger to hold fast to 
known, acknowledged, established principles, seen to be 
right before the temptation began : Anger having the pro- 
perty of annulling for the time all true perception. 

158 The Pen it en ts for A nger. Marco Lorn bar do 

Voices I heard, and every one appeared 
To supplicate for peace and misericord 
The Lamb of God Who takes away our sins. 

Still ' Agnus Dei" 1 their exordium was; 
One word there was in all, and metre one, 
So that all harmony appeared among them. 

' Master,' I said, are Spirits those I hear ? ' 
And he to,me : * Thou apprehendest truly, 
And they the knot of anger go unloosing.' 

xvi. 16-24. 

A voice here commenced a conversation with Dante, the 
speaker, who named himself Marco_Lombardo, reflecting on 
the^utter corruption of the world : and as his interlocutor, 
fully assenting to this as a fact, requested to be certified 
whether its cause lay in the influences of the Heavens or in 
the wills of men 

A sigh profound, that grief forced into Ai ! 

He first sent forth, and then began he : ' Brother, 
The world is blind, and sooth thou comest from it ! 

Ye who are living every cause refer 

Still upward to the Heavens, as if all things 
They of necessity moved with themselves. 

If this were so, in you would be destroyed 
Free will, nor any justice would there be 
In having joy for good, or grief for evil. 

The Heavens your movements do initiate, 
I say not all ; but granting that I say it, 
Light has been given you for good and evil, 

And free volition ; which, if some fatigue 

In the first battles with the Heavens it suffers, 
Afterwards conquers all, if well 't is nurtured. 

To greater force and to a better nature, 

Though free, ye subject are, and that creates 

treats of Free Will and of Government. 1 59 

The mind in you the Heavens have not in charge. 1 
Hence, if the present world doth go astray, 

In you the cause is, be it sought in you ; 

And I therein will now be thy true spy. 
Forth from the hand of Him, Who fondles it 

Before it is, like to a little girl 

Weeping and laughing in her childish sport, 
Issues the simple soul, that nothing knows, 

Save that, proceeding from a joyous Maker, 

Gladly it turns to that which gives it pleasure. 
Of trivial good at first it tastes the savor ; 

Is cheated by it, and runs after it, 

If guide or rein turn not aside its love. 
Hence it behooved laws for a rein to place, 

Behooved a king 2 to have, who at the least 

Of the true city should discern the tower. 
The laws exist, but who sets hand to them ? 

No one; because the shepherd who precedes 

Can ruminate, but cleaveth not the hoof; 8 
Wherefore the people that perceives its guide 

Strike only at the good for which it hankers, 

Feeds upon that, and farther seeketh not. 
Clearly canst thou perceive that evil guidance 

The cause is that has made the world depraved, 

And not that nature is corrupt in you.' 

xvi. 64-105. 

1 See p. 14. The preceding triplet may be thus paraphrased : To 
greater strength than that of the Heavens, even to God's Omnipotence, 
and to a better nature, even to God's Goodness, ye retaining free-will 
are subject ; and That it is Which creates in you the mind which the 
Heavens have not in their power. 

2 The Emperor. 

8 Dante seems partly to apply the prohibition to eat beasts that cleave 
not the hoof, in condemnation of the worldliness practically tainting 
the Church of his day. 

1 60 The third P effaced. Virgil shows 

Soon after this the discourse was broken off by the 
speakers reaching the skirts of the smoke-fog, beyond 
which Marco might not go; but Dante passed into the 
fading sun-light. The trance wherein he now beheld in- 
stances of Anger was suddenly dispelled by the radiance 
of the Angel, the preface to confirmed cleanness, freedom 
and blessedness. Lightened of the third P, under the rising 
stars he had just time to complete his fourth ascent ere 
darkness suspended his power to move upwards, and af- 
forded Virgil opportunity to lay down that theory of the seven 
Capital Sins which was in its essential points set forth in 
the preceding chapter ; * and which follows here in full. 

' Neither Creator nor a creature ever, 

Son,' he began, ' was destitute of love 

Natural or spiritual ; and thou knowest it. 
The natural was ever without error ; 2 

But err the other may by evil object, 

Or by too much, or by too little vigor. 
While in the first it well directed is, 

And in the second moderates itself, 

It cannot be the cause of sinful pleasure ; 
But when to ill it turns, and, with more care 

Or lesser than it ought, runs after good, 

'Gainst the Creator works His own creation. 
Hence thou mayst comprehend that love must be 

The seed within yourselves of every virtue, 

And every act that merits punishment. 
Now inasmuch as never from the welfare 

Of its own subject 3 can love turn its sight, 

1 See pp. 113, 114. 

2 The ' natural love ' is the appetite for things needful for the pre- 
servation and well-being of the body. 

3 The ' subject of love ' is the person feeling it. 

1 - " * t 

how Love may be the seed o^in. 1 6* ^ 

From their own hatred all things are secure ; 
And since we cannot think of any being 

Standing alone, nor from the First divided, 

Of hating Him is all desire cut off. 
Hence if, discriminating, I judge well, 

The evil that one loves is of one's neighbor, 

And this is born in three modes in your clay. 
There are, who, by abasement of their neighbor, 

Hope to excel, and therefore only long 

That from his greatness he may be cast down ; 
There are, who power, grace, honor, and renown 

Fear they may lose because another rises, 

Thence are so sad that the reverse they love ; 
And there are those whom injury seems to chafe, 

So that it makes them greedy for revenge, 

And such must needs shape out another's harm. 
This threefold love is wept for 'down below ; 

Now of the other will I have thee hear, 

That runneth after good with measure faulty. 
Each one confusedly a good conceives 

Wherein the mind may rest, and longeth for it ; 

Therefore to overtake it each one strives. 
If languid love to look on this attract you, 

Or in attaining unto it, this cornice, 

After just penitence, torments you for it. 
There 's other good that does not make man happy ; 

'Tis not felicity, 'tis not the good 

Essence, of every good the fruit and root. 
The love that yields itself too much to this 

Above us is lamented in three circles ; 

But how tripartite it may be described, 
I say not, that thou seek it for thyself.' 

xvn. 91-139. 


1 62 The Penitents for Sloth. The Siren. 

Two more dissertations on the nature of Love, and on 
Free Will had brought midnight' near, when the drowsi- 
ness just creeping over Dante was forcibly dispelled by a 
rush of Shades coursing along as if ridden by good-will and 
just love. ' Mary ran with haste to the mountain/ was the 
watch-shout of Diligence in the van : ' Quick, quick, let 
no time be lost for want of love, let energy in well-doing 
freshen grace,' was the multitudinous spur-cry of the mass : 
' Come on with us, and you will find the aperture our 
craving for motion is such that we cannot stop pardon if 
our righteousness seem discourtesy,' was the hurried direc- 
tion to the Pilgrims : then fewest words announced the 
speaker Abbot of San Zeno in Verona, assigned his date, 
reprobated the sins of the actual intruded Abbot and of 
the intruder and carried him quite out of hearing : while 
already the Sloth of the Israelites who died in the wilder- 
ness was being vituperated in the rear. 

Dante slept at length; and in the hour preceding the 
sunrise of Easter Tuesday dreamed once more dreamed 
of a woman stammering, squinting, lame of foot, maimed of 
hands, and ashy pale. He gazed on her, and lo under his 
gaze her form straightened, her face flushed, her tongue 
loosened to the Siren's song. But a holy Lady probably 
Lucia or Illuminating Grace arose swift to confound her, 
calling on Virgil ; and anon the Siren was laid open, the 
spell broken, the dreamer awake. Then after the fourth 
benediction and erasure, the fifth ascent began ; and the 
disciple, yet brooding over the vision which had embodied 
to his senses the Worldly and Fleshly sins whereof he was 
about to witness the expiation, was thus admonished by the 
Master : 

The Penitents for Avarice : Pope Adrian V. 1 63 

4 Didst thou behold,' he said, 'that old enchantress, 
Who sole above us henceforth is lamented ? 
Didst thou behold how man is freed from her? 

Suffice it thee, and smite earth with thy heels, 
Thine eyes lift upward to the lure, that whirls l 
The Eternal King with revolutions vast.' 

xix. 58-63. 

Soon both Travellers stood on the Fifth Terrace, amid 
the sore weeping and wailing of the prostrate Avaricious. 
The wonted request for direction was answered courteously, 
but as if to another Shade ; and Dante, with Virgil's per- 
mission pausing beside the answerer Pope Adrian V., who 
had died A. D. 1276, after forty days' reign thus addressed 
him : 

* O Spirit, in whom weeping ripens 
That without which to God we cannot turn, 
Suspend awhile for me thy greater care. 
Who wast thou, and why are your backs turned upwards, 
Tell me, and if thou wouldst that I procure thee 
Anything there whence living I departed.' 
And he to me : ' Wherefore our backs the Heaven 
Turns to itself, know shalt thou ; but beforehand 
Scias quod egofui successor Petri. 
Between Siestri and Chiaveri descends 
A river beautiful, and of its name 2 
The title of my blood its summit makes. 
A month and little more essayed I how 

Weighs the great cloak on him from mire who keeps it ; 
For all the other burdens seem a feather. 

1 Lift up thine eyes to the Heavens, which are God's lure to draw 
them upwards. 

2 The river Lavagna, which gave the title of Counts of Lavagna to 
the Fieschi family, whence sprang Pope Adrian V. 

164 How Avarice is chastised. 

Tardy, ah woe is me ! was my conversion ; 

But when the Roman Shepherd I was made, 

Then I discovered life to be a lie. 
I saw that there the heart was not at rest, 

Nor farther in that life could one ascend ; 

Whereby the love of this was kindled in me. 
Until that time a wretched soul and parted 

From God was I, and wholly avaricious ; 

Now, as thou seest, I here am punished for it. 
What avarice does is here made manifest 

In the purgation of these souls converted, 

And no more bitter pain the Mountain has. 
Even as our eye did not uplift itself 

Aloft, being fastened upon earthly things, 

So justice here has merged it in the earth. 
As avarice had extinguished our aifection 

For every good, whereby was action lost, 

So justice here doth hold us in restraint, 
Bound and imprisoned by the feet and hands ; 

And so long as it pleases the just Lord 

Shall we remain immovable and prostrate.' 
I on my knees had fallen, and wished to speak ; 

But even as I began, and he was 'ware, 

Only by listening, of my reverence, 
* What cause,' he said, ' has downward bent thee thus ? ' 

And I to him : ' For your own dignity, 

Standing, my conscience stung me with remorse.' 
' Straighten thy legs, and upward raise thee, brother,' 

He answered : * Err not, fellow-servant am I 

With thee and with the others to one Power. 
If e'er that holy, evangelic sound, 

Which sayeth neque nubent, thou hast heard, 1 

1 He means that 'they neither marry/ etc., indicates the abrogation 
in the next world of all earthly relations. 

Hugh Capet. 165 

Well canst thou see why in this wise I speak. 
Now go ; no longer will I have thee linger, 

Because thy stay doth incommode my weeping, 

With which I ripen that which thou hast said. 
On earth I have a grandchild named Alagia, 

Good in herself, unless indeed our house 

Malevolent may make her by example, 
And she alone remains to me on earth.' 

Ill strives the will against a better will ; 
Therefore, to pleasure him, against my pleasure 
I drew the sponge not saturate from the water. 

Onward I moved, and onward moved my Leader, 
Through vacant places, skirting still the rock, 
As on a wall close to the battlements ; 

For they that through their eyes pour drop by drop 
The malady which all the world pervades, 
On the other side too near the verge approach. 

xix. 91-145. xx. 1-9. 

An invocation of Blessed Mary reduced to the Stable of 
Bethlehem, followed by the citation of other examples of 
Poverty and Liberality, caught Dante's ear as he slowly 
made his way along; and the proclaimer, having gratified 
his curiosity by naming himself Hugh Capet, forefather of 
the royal line of France, and confirmed his judgment by 
heaviest condemnation of the later princes of that line, 
concluded by informing him of one point whereof he would 
have no other testimony that the abhorrent recalling of 
jnqi-an^es of Avarice is in this Circuit the occupation of the 

From him already we departed were, 
And made endeavor to overcome the road 
As much as was permitted to our power, 

1 66 The earthquake and the hymn. 

When I perceived, like something that is falling, 
The mountain tremble, whence a chill seized on me, 
As seizes him who to his death is going. 

Certes so violently shook not Delos, 
Before Latona made her nest therein 
To give birth to the two eyes of the heaven. 

Then upon all sides there began a cry, 

Such that the Master drew himself towards me, 
Saying, Fear not, while I am guiding thee.' 

* Gloria in excelsis Deo] all 
Were saying, from what near I comprehended, 
Where it was possible to hear the cry. 

We paused immovable and in suspense, 

Even as the shepherds who first heard that song, 
Until the trembling ceased, and it was finished. 

Then we resumed again our holy path, 

Watching the Shades that lay upon the ground, 
Already turned to their accustomed plaint. 

No ignorance ever with so great a strife 
Had rendered me importunate to know, 
If erreth not in this my memory, 

As meditating then I seemed to have ; 
Nor out of haste to question did I dare, 
Nor of myself I there could aught perceive ; 

So I went onward timorous and thoughtful. 

The natural thirst, that ne'er is satisfied 
Excepting with the water for whose grace 
The woman of Samaria besought, 

Put me in travail, and haste goaded me 

Along the encumbered path behind my Leader, 
And I was pitying that righteous vengeance ; 

And lo ! in the same manner as Luke writeth 
That Christ appeared to two upon the way 

The released Shade. 167 

From the sepulchral cave already risen, 
A Shade appeared to us, and came behind us, 

Down gazing on the prostrate multitude, 

Nor were we ware of it until it spake, 
Saying, ' My brothers, may God give you peace ! ' 

We turned us suddenly, and Virgilius rendered 

To him the countersign thereto conforming. 
Thereon began he : 'In the blessed council, 

Thee may the court veracious place in peace, 

That me doth banish in eternal exile ! ' 
' How,' said he, and the while we went with speed, 

4 If ye are Shades whom God deigns not on high, 

Who up His stairs so far has guided you ? ' 
And said my Teacher: 'If thou note the marks 

Which this one bears, and which the Angel traces, 

Well shalt thou see he with the good must reign.' 

xx. 124-151. xxi. 1-24. 

These words, seeming to speak of the P's as a token 
familiar to the inquirer, constitute, so far as I know, the 
only evidence that the penitent Shades may, in common 
with Dante, receive these marks. Virgil went on : 

* But because she who spinneth day and night 
For him had not yet drawn the distaff off, 
Which Clotho lays for each one and compacts, 

His soul, which is thy sister and my own, 
In coming upwards could not come alone, 
By reason that it sees not in our fashion. 

Whence I was drawn from out the ample throat 
Of Hell to be his guide, and I shall guide him 
As far on as my school has power to lead. 

But tell us, if thou knowest, why such a shudder 
Erewhile the mountain gave, and why together 
All seemed to cry, as far as its moist feet ? ' 

1 68 The religion of the Mountain. 

In asking he so hit the very eye 
Of my desire, that merely with the hope 
My thirst became the less unsatisfied. 

4 Naught is there,' he began, * that without order 
May the religion of the mountain feel, 
Nor aught that may be foreign to its custom. 

Free is it here from every permutation ; 
What from itself heaven in itself receiveth 
Can be of this the cause, and naught beside ; 

Because that neither rain, nor hail, nor snow, 
Nor dew, nor hoar-frost any higher falls 
Than the short, little stairway of^three steps. 

Dense clouds do not appear, nor rarefied, 

Nor coruscation, nor the daughter J of Thaumas, 
That often upon earth her region shifts ; 

No arid vapor any farther rises 
Than to the top of the three steps I spake of, 
Whereon the Vicar of Peter has his feet. 

Lower down perchance it trembles less or more, 
But, for the wind that in the earth is hidden 
I know not how, up here it never tremblej. 

It trembles here, whenever any Soul 

Feels itself pure, so that it soars, or uioves 
To mount aloft, and such a cry attends it. 

Of purity the will alone gives proof, 

Which, being wholly free to change its convent, 
Takes by surprise the Soul, and helps it fly. 

First it wills well ; but the desire permits not, 
Which Divine Justice with the self-same will 
There was to sin, upon the torment sets. 

And I, who have been lyijng^in-this^pajn 

Five hundred years and more, but just now fe-lt 
A free volition for a better seat. 

1 Iris : the rainbow. 

The released Shade is Papinius Statins. 1 69 

Therefore thou heardst the earthquake, and the pious 
Spirits along the mountain rendering praise 
Unto the Lord, that soon He speed them upwards.' 

So said he to him ; and since we enjoy 
As much in drinking as the thirst is great, 
I could not say how much it did me good. 

And the wise Leader : * Now I see the net 
That snares you here, and how ye are set free, 
Why the earth quakes, and wherefore ye rejoice. 

Now who thou wast be pleased that I may know ; 
And why so many centuries thou hast here 
Been lying, let me gather from thy words.' 

xxi. 25-81. 

The released Shade replied that he was the Latin poet 
Papinius Statius, author of the Sylvse, the Thebaid and the 
Achilleid, the latter work being, however, cut short by his 
premature death about A. D. 96. He continued : 

* The seeds unto my ardor were the sparks 
Of that celestial flame which heated me, 
Whereby more than a thousand have been fired ; 

Of the ^Eneid speak I, which to me 

A mother was, and was my nurse in song ; 
Without this weighed I not a drachma's weight. 

And to have lived upon the earth what time 
Virgilius lived, I would accept one sun 
More than I must ere issuing from my ban.' 

These words towards me made Virgilius turn 

With looks that in their silence said, Be silent ! ' 
But yet the power that wills cannot do all things ; 

For tears and laughter are such pursuivants 

Unto the passion from which each springs forth, 
In the most truthful least the will they follow. 

I only smiled, as one who gives the wink ; 

1 70 Virgil made known to Statiiis. 

Whereat the Shade was silent, and it gazed 

Into mine eyes, where most expression dwells ; 
And, ' As thou well mayst consummate a labor 

So great,' it said, * why did thy face just now 

Display to me the lightning of a smile ? ' 
Now am I caught on this side and on that ; 

One keeps me silent, one to speak conjures me, 

Wherefore I sigh, and I am understood. 
* Speak,' said my Master, ' and be not afraid 

Of speaking, but speak out, and say to him 

What he demands with such solicitude.' 
Whence I : ' Thou peradventure marvellest, 

O antique Spirit, at the smile I gave ; 

But I will have more wonder seize upon thee. 
This one, who guides on high these eyes of mine, 

Is that Virgilius, from whom thou didst learn 

To sing aloud of men and of the Gods. 
If other cause thou to my smile imputedst, 

Abandon it as false, and trust it was 

Those words which thou hast spoken concerning him.' 
Already he was stooping to embrace 

My Teacher's feet ; but he said to him : * Brother, 

Do not ; for Shade thou art, and Shade beholdest.' 
And he uprising : ' Now canst thou the sum 

Of love which warms me to thee comprehend, 

When this our vanity I disremember, 
Treating a shadow as substantial thing.' 

Already was the Angel left behind us, 

The Angel who to the sixth round had turned us, 

taving erased one mark from off my face ; 
And those who have in justice their desire 
Had said to us, ' BeatiJ in their voices, 
With, 'sitioj and without more ended it. 

xxi. 94-136. xxn. 1-6. 

X" ""^\ 

Statins relates his history. 171 

Note here how expressly Dante appropriates to himself 
the cancelling of the P. If the Shades receive these prints 
at all, we must I think conclude the erasure to be in their 
ca^se effectejiJi^LJii^JLpu^^ 

Going up the sixth staircase, Statius at Virgil's request 
further detailed his own history. He had endured these 
five ages of penance not for the love of money which con- 
stitutes Avarice, but for the love of money's worth which 
tempts to Prodigality; and which would have consigned 
him to the Fourth Circle of Hell had not Virgil's words, 
' To what dost not thou, O accursed hunger of gold, drive 
the appetite of mortals?' enlightened and corrected him. 
And to Virgil he owed yet a third benefit, a second and 
greater enlightenment. He read in the Fourth Eclogue 
the celebrated quotation of the Sibylline prophecy. 'The 
last era of Cumaean song is now arrived ; the great series 
of ages begins anew; now the Virgin returns, returns the 
Saturnian reign ; now a new Progeny is sent down from the 
high Heaven.' 1 And reading he perceived the agreement 
of the words with the preached Gospel, sought out its 
preachers, believed and was baptized ; compassionated and 
helped his persecuted brethren, yet lacked courage openly 
to profess his and their faith, and for this cowardly Sloth 
had to race round.4he Fourth JTerrace above four hundred 
years ; the remaining three centuries since his death having 
been passed, as we must conclude, lower down. His nar- 
rative ended, he heard from his countryman news of former 
friends and other inhabitants of Limbo, interesting to him 
on account of their works, or as the heroines of his own 
poems. At last Terrace VI. was reached; and the con- 

1 Longfellow's translation. 

172 The first Tree of emptiness. 

versation of the Latin Bards was teaching their art to their 
Italian follower 

But soon their sweet discourses interrupted 
A tree which midway in the road we found, 
With apples sweet and grateful to the smell. 

And even as a fir-tree tapers upward 

From bough to bough, so downwardly did that ; 
I think in order that no one might climb it. 

On that side where our pathway was enclosed 
Fell from the lofty rock a limpid water, 
And spread itself abroad upon the leaves. 

The Poets twain unto the tree drew near, 
And from among the foliage a voice 
Cried : ' Of this food ye shall have scarcity.' 

Then said : ' More thoughtful Mary was of making 
The marriage feast complete and honorable, 
Than of her mouth which now for you responds ; 

And for their drink the ancient Roman women 
With water were content : and Daniel 
Disparaged food, and understanding won. 

The primal age was beautiful as gold ; 
Acorns it made with hunger savorous, 
And nectar every rivulet with thirst. 

Honey and locusts were the aliments 
That fed the Baptist in the wilderness ; 
Whence he is glorious, and so magnified 

As by the Evangel is revealed to you.' 

The while among the verdant leaves mine eyes 

I riveted, as he is wont to do 

Who wastes his life pursuing little birds, 
My more than Father said unto me : ' Son, 

Come now ; because the time that is ordained us 

More usefully should be apportioned out.' 

The Penitents for Gluttony. 173 

I turned my face and no less soon my steps 
Unto the Sages, who were speaking so 
They made the going of no cost to me ; 

And lo ! were heard a song and a lament, 
* Labia mea, Dominel in fashion 
Such that delight and dolence it brought forth. 

* O my sweet Father, what is this I hear ? ' 
Began I ; and he answered : ' Shades that go 
Perhaps the knot unloosing of their debt.' 

In the same way that thoughtful pilgrims do, 
Who, unknown people on the road o'ertaking, 
Turn themselves round to them, and do not stop, 

Even thus, behind us with a swifter motion 
Coming and passing onward, gazed upon us 
A crowd of Spirits silent and devout. 

Each in his eyes was dark and cavernous, 
Pallid in face, and so emaciate 
That from the bones the skin did shape itself. 

xxn. 130-154. xxin. 1-24. 

These Shades were macerated out of all knowledge ; but 
one of them, Forese de' Donati, recognizing in Dante a 
friend, a brother-in-law, and as will presently appear by 
the Poet's own words to him a companion in more or less 
of evil, was in turn recognized by his voice. He could not 
however obtain information on any one subject till he had 
satisfied Dante's strong desire to know the cause of his 
wasted condition. 

4 That face of thine which dead I once bewept, 
Gives me for weeping now no lesser grief,' 
I answered him, ' beholding it so changed ! 

But tell me, for God's sake, what thus denudes you ? 
Make me not speak while I am marvelling, 

1 74 Forese de Donati converses 

For ill speaks he who 's full of other longings.' 

And he to me : * From the eternal counsel 
Falls power into the water and the tree 
Behind us left, whereby I grow so thin. 

All of this people who lamenting sing, 
For following beyond measure appetite 
In hunger and thirst are here re-sanctified. 

Desire to eat and drink enkindles in us 
The scent that issues from the apple-tree, 
And from the spray that sprinkles o'er the verdure ; 

And not a single time alone, this ground 
Encircling, is renewed our pain, 
I say our pain, and ought to say our solace, 

For the same wish doth lead us to the tree 
Which led the Christ rejoicing to say Eli, 
When with His veins He liberated us.' 

And I to him : ' Forese, from that day 

When for a better life thou changedst worlds, 
Up to this time five years have not rolled round. 

If sooner were the power exhausted in thee 
Of sinning more, than thee the hour surprised 
Of that good sorrow which to God re weds us, 

How hast thou come up hitherward already ? 
I thought to find thee down there underneath, 
Where time for time doth restitution make.' 

And he to me : ' Thus speedily has led me 

To drink of the sweet wormwood of these torments, 
My Nella with her overflowing tears ; 

She with her prayers devout and with her sighs 
Has drawn me from the coast where one awaits, 
And from the other circles set me free. 

So much more dear and pleasing is to God 
My little widow, whom so much I loved, 
As in good works she is the more alone ; 

with Dante on various matters. 175 

For the Barbagia of Sardinia l 

By far more modest in its women is 

Than the Barbagia I have left her in. 
O brother sweet, what wilt thou have me say ? 

A future time is in my sight already, 

To which this hour will not be very old, 
When from the pulpit shall be interdicted 

To the unblushing womankind of Florence 

To go about displaying breast and paps. 
What savages were e'er, what Saracens, 

Who stood in need, to make them covered go, 

Of spiritual or other discipline ? 
But if the shameless women were assured 

Of what swift Heaven prepares for them, already 

Wide open would they have their mouths to howl ; 
For if my foresight here deceive me not 

They shall be sad ere he has bearded cheeks 

Who now is hushed to sleep with lullaby. 
O brother, now no longer hide thee from me ; 

See that not only I, but all these people 

Are gazing there, where thou dost veil the sun.' 
Whence I to him : * If thou bring back to mind 

What thou with me hast been and I with thee, 

The present memory will be grievous still. 
Out of that life he turned me back who goes 

In front of me, two days agone when round 

The sister of him yonder showed herself,' 
And to the sun I pointed. ' Through the deep 

Night of the truly dead has this one led me, 

With this true flesh, that follows after him. 
Thence his encouragements have led me up, 

Ascending and still circling round the mount 

That you doth straighten, whom the world made crooked. 

1 A wild mountainous district, almost barbarous. 

176 The entrance on the Terrace of Fire. 

He says that he will bear me company, 

Till I shall be where Beatrice will be ; 

There it behooves me to remain without him. 
This is Virgilius, who thus says to me,' 

And him I pointed at ; ' the other is 

That Shade for whom just now shook every slope 
Your realm, that from itself discharges him.' 

xxni. 55-133- 

Many Shades were then pointed out by name : consider- 
ing that this had been done in every preceding Circuit, one 
is somewhat surprised at Forese's statement that it is allowed 
here on account of their altered semblance. At last the 
second Tree was seen, and its warnings against Gluttony 
heard. About a mile further on, at two o'clock p. M., the 
usual processes set free the Poets for the seventh ascent ; 
and as they performed it, Statius explained the nature and 
formation of the shade-body. 

And now unto the last of all the circles 

Had we arrived and to the right hand turned, 
And were attentive to another care. 

There the embankment shoots forth flames of fire, 
And upward doth the cornice breathe a blast 
That drives them back, and from itself sequesters. 

Hence we must needs go on the open side, 
And one by one ; and I did fear the fire 
On this side, and on that the falling down. 

My Leader said : ' Along this place one ought 
To keep upon the eyes a tightened rein, 
Seeing that one so easily might err.' 

' Summa Deus dementia] in the bosom 
Of the great burning chanted then I heardf 

The Penitents for Lasciv 

Which made me no less eager to turn round ; 

And Spirits saw I walking through the flame ; 
Wherefore I looked, to my own steps and theirs 
Apportioning my sight from time to time. 

After the close which to that hymn is made, 
Aloud they shouted, ' Virum non cognoscoj" 1 * 
Then recommenced the hymn with voices low. 

xxv. 109-129. 

On this Terrace Dante talked with the poet Guido 
Guinicelli of Bologna, a man of science, and one of the 
earliest writers in pure Italian ; and was by him asked to 
say an intercessory Paternoster up to the point where it 
ceases to be applicable to the impeccable. The Provencal 
troubadour Arnault Daniel, being requested to tell his 
name, made graceful reply in his native tongue ; and as 
he wholly disappeared within the fire, the Pilgrims stood 
opposite the eighth staircase. 

As when he vibrates forth his earliest rays, 
In regions where his Maker shed His blood, 
(The Ebro falling under lofty Libra, 

And waters in the Ganges burnt with noon,) 

So stood the Sun: 2 hence was the day departing, 
When the glad Angel of God appeared to us. 

Outside the flame he stood upon the verge, 
And chanted forth, 'Beati mundo corde,' 
In voice by far more living than our own. 

1 The B. Virgin's words as an example of Chastity, ' I know not a 

2 ' When the Sun is rising at Jerusalem, it is setting on the Mountain 
of Purgatory ; it is midnight in Spain, with Libra in the meridian, and 
noon in India.' 


1 78 Dante shrinks from the Fire : 

Then : ' No one farther goes, souls sanctified, 
If first the fire bite not ; within it enter, 

And be not deaf unto the song beyond.' 

xxvn. 1-12. 

We must conclude that nowhere round this whole Ter- 
race is there any break in the flame-wreath; wherefore 
no penitent Shade but must needs pass through it, whether 
tainted or not with the special sin chastised by sojourning 
within it. The reason may perhaps be that S. Paul appar- 
ently includes each and every soul that has built upon the 
One Foundation 'wood, hay, stubble,' in the class saved 
'so as by fire.' 1 And Dante himself elsewhere uses 'the 
fire,' 'the temporal fire,' as terms equivalent to 'Purga- 
tory.' 2 

When we were close beside him thus he said ; 

Wherefore e'en such became I, when I heard him, 

As he is who is put into the grave. 
Upon my clasped hands I straightened me, 

Scanning the fire and vividly recalling 

The human bodies I had once seen burned. 

xxvn. 13-18. 

Yes, and in that awful conflict he must have called up 
with more agonizing intensity a more appalling vision for 
he was himself under sentence of death by fire should he 
again be found in Florence. 

Towards me turned themselves my good Conductors, 
And unto me Virgilius said : * My son, 
Here may indeed be torment, but not death. 

Remember thee, remember ! and if I 
On Geryon have safely guided thee, 

1 I Cor. iii. 10-15. 2 Inf. i. 119. Pur. xxvii. 127. 

Virgil persuades him to pass through. 1 79 

What shall I do now I am nearer God ? 

Believe for certain, shouldst thou stand a full 
Millennium in the bosom of this flame, 
It could not make thee bald a single hair. 

And if perchance thou think that I deceive thee, 
Draw near to it, and put it to the proof 
With thine own hands upon thy garment's hem. 

Now lay aside, now lay aside all fear, 

Turn hitherward, and onward come securely ; ' 
And I still motionless, and 'gainst my conscience ! 

Seeing me stand still motionless and stubborn, 

Somewhat disturbed he said : ' Now look thou, Son, 
'Twixt Beatrice and thee there is this wall.' 

As at the name of Thisbe oped his lids 
The dying Pyramus, and gazed upon her, 
What time the mulberry became vermilion, 

Even thus, my obduracy being softened, 

I turned to my wise Guide, hearing the name 
That in my memory evermore is welling. 

Whereat he wagged his head, and said : ' How now ? 
Shall we stay on this side ?' then smiled as one 
Does at a child who 's vanquished by an apple. 

Then into the fire in front of me he entered, 
Beseeching Statius to come after me, 
Who a long way before divided us. 

When I was in it, into molten glass 
I would have cast me to refresh myself, 
So without measure was the burning there ! 

And my sweet Father, to encourage me, 
Discoursing still of Beatrice went on, 
Saying : ' Her eyes I seem to see already ! ' 

A voice, that on the other side was singing, 
Directed us, and we, attent alone 
On that, came forth where the ascent began. 

180 D antes dream of Leah and Rachel. 

4 Venite, benedicti Patris meij 

Sounded within a splendor, which was there 
Such it o'ercame me, and I could not look. 

' The sun departs,' it added, 'and night cometh ; 
Tarry ye not, but onward urge your steps, 
So long as yet the west becomes not dark.' 

xxvii. 19-63. 

But no haste availed : Dante's shadow went out before 
him with the Sun's last ray behind him ; not another up- 
ward step was possible ; and he with his two companions 
lay down for the night, each on a several stair between the 
high walls of the strait ascent. 

Little could there "be seen of things without; 
But through that little I beheld the stars 
More luminous and larger than their wont. 

Thus ruminating, and beholding these, 

Sleep seized upon me, sleep, that oftentimes 
Before, a deed is done has tidings of it. 

It was the hour, I think, when from the East 
First on the mountain Cytherea beamed, 
Who with the fire of love seems always burning ; 

Youthful and beautiful in dreams methought 
I saw a lady walking in a meadow, 
Gathering flowers ; and singing she was saying : 

' Know whosoever may my name demand 
That I am Leah, and go moving round 

. My beauteous hands to make myself a garland. 

To please me at the mirror, here I deck me, 
But never does my sister Rachel leave 
Her looking-glass, and sitteth all day long. 

To see her beauteous eyes as eager is she, 
As I am to adorn me with my hands ; 

Her, seeing, and me, doing satisfies.' 

xxvii. 88-108. 

The ascent from Purgatory. 1 8 1 

Leah is the symbol of the Active Life ; Rachel of the 
Contemplative, which is the more perfect. But neither wife 
could Jacob obtain without previous long and toilsome 
service. Even so has the Mount of Purgation now led up 
to the lower or Terrestrial Paradise of Action ; which again 
will serve as the stepping-stone to the higher or Celestial 
Paradise of Contemplation. 

And now Easter Wednesday is dawning. 

And now before the antelucan splendors 
That unto pilgrims the more grateful rise, 
As, home-returning, less remote they lodge, 

The darkness fled away on every side, 
And slumber with it ; whereupon I rose, 
Seeing already the great Masters risen. 

4 That apple sweet, 1 which through so many branches 
The care of mortals goeth in pursuit of, 
To-day shall put in peace thy hungerings.' 

Speaking to me, Virgilius of such words 
As these made use ; and never were there guerdons 
That could in pleasantness compare with these. 

Such longing upon longing came upon me 
To be above, that at each step thereafter 
For flight I felt in me the pinions growing. 

When underneath us was the stairway all 
Run o'er, and we were on the highest step, 
Virgilius fastened upon me his eyes, 

And said : ' The temporal fire and the eternal, 
Son, thou hast seen, and to a place art come 
Where of myself no farther I discern. 

By intellect and art I here have brought thee ; 

Take thine own pleasure for thy guide henceforth ; 

1 True Happiness. 

1 82 Dante pronounced whole and free. 

Beyond the steep ways and the narrow art thou. 

Behold the sun, that shines upon thy forehead ; 
Behold the grass, the flowerets, and the shrubs 
Which of itself alone this land produces. 

Until rejoicing come the beauteous eyes 

Which weeping caused me to come unto thee, 

Thou canst sit down, and thou canst walk among them. 

Expect no more or word or sign from me ; 
Free and upright and sound is thy free-will, 
And error were it not to do its bidding ; 

Thee o'er thyself I therefore crown and mitre ! ' 

xxvii. 109-142. 





Questo luogo, eletto 
All* umana natura per suo nido. 

This place 
Elect to human nature for its nest. 

Pur. xxviii. 77, 78. 

ND so the crowned King and mitred Priest entered 
his kingdom and temple of Paradise. 

Eager already to search in and round 

The heavenly forest, dense and living-green, 
Which tempered to the eyes the new-born day, 

Withouten more delay I left the bank, 
Taking the level country slowly, slowly 
Over the soil that everywhere breathes fragrance. 

A softly-breathing air, that no mutation 
Had in itself, upon the forehead smote me 
No heavier blow than of a gentle wind, 

Whereat the branches, lightly tremulous, 

Did all of them bow downward toward that side 
Where its first shadow casts the Holy Mountain ; 

Yet not from their upright direction swayed, 
So that the little birds upon their tops 
Should leave the practice of each art of theirs ; 

But with full ravishment the hours of prime, 
Singing, received they in the midst of leaves, 

1 84 Matilda appears : who is she ? 

That ever bore a burden to their rhymes. 

Such as from branch to branch goes gathering on 
Through the pine forest on the shore of Chiassi, 
When Eolus unlooses the Sirocco. 

Already my slow steps had carried me 
Into the ancient wood so far, that I 
Could not perceive where I had entered it. 

And lo ! my further course a stream cut off, 
Which tow'rd the left hand with its little waves 
Bent down the grass that on its margin sprang. . 

All waters that on earth most limpid are 

Would seem to have within themselves some mixture 
Compared with that which nothing doth conceal. 

Although it moves on with a brown, brown current 
Under the shade perpetual, that never 
Ray of the sun lets in, nor of the moon. 

With feet I stayed, and with mine eyes I passed 
Beyond the rivulet, to look upon 
The great variety of the fresh May. 

And there appeared to me (even as appears 
Suddenly something that doth turn aside 
Through very wonder every other thought) 

A lady all alone, who went along 

Singing and culling floweret after floweret, 
With which her pathway was all painted over. 

Pur. xxvin. 1-42. 

This lady is named Matilda, and no further defined. But 
as any ' Elizabeth ' as barely named in an English poem 
would be unhesitatingly identified with our great Queen 
Elizabeth, so is it scarcely possible not to identify this 
lovely poetic vision with Matilda Countess of Tuscany, of 
unique celebrity in mediaeval history. Born somewhat 
before the middle of the eleventh century, she succeeded 

Dante accosts Matilda. 185 

her father Boniface in his vast possessions, comprising 
not only Tuscany, but Mantua, Parma, Reggio, Placentia, 
Ferrara, Modena, a part of Umbria, the duchy of Spoleto, 
Verona, almost all the country afterwards called the Patri- 
mony of S. Peter, and part of the Marches of Ancona. She 
adhered with the utmost devotion to Pope Gregory VII., 
and to his successors, in all their contests with the Emperors, 
and dying childless bequeathed her territories to the Holy 
See. Her unvarying espousal of the Papal as opposed to 
'the Imperial cause seems the only point that can reason- 
ably cast a doubt on the identity of the two Matildas, 
Dante holding, as we have seen, a view essentially different. 
But in any case the Flower-culler of Eden, the only per- 
manent inhabitant appearing there, would seem to be the 
realization and development of the dream-Leah, and so the 
Christian type of the Active Life in the Paradise of Earth : 
Beatrice standing in the same relation to the dream-Rachel, 
and to the Contemplative Life in the Paradise of Heaven. 

4 Ah, beauteous lady, who in rays of love 
Dost warm thyself, if I may trust to looks, 
Which the heart's witnesses are wont to be, 

May the desire come unto thee to draw 
Near to this river's bank,' I said to her, 
* So much that I may hear what thou art singing. 

Thou makest me remember where and what 
Proserpina that moment was when lost 
Her mother her, and she herself the Spring.' 

As turns herself, with feet together pressed 
And to the ground, a lady who is dancing, 
And hardly puts one foot before the other, 

On the vermilion and the yellow flowerets 
She turned towards me, not in other wise 

1 86 Matilda joys in the works of God. 

Than maiden who her modest eyes casts down ; 

And my entreaties made to be content, 
So near approaching, that the dulcet sound 
Came unto me together with its meaning. 

As soon as she was where the grasses are 
Bathed by the waters of the beauteous river, 
To lift her eyes she granted me the boon. 

I do not think there shone so great a light 
Under the lids of Venus, when transfixed 
By her own son, beyond his usual custom ! 1 

Erect upon the other bank she smiled, 
Bearing full many colors in her hands, 
Which that high land produces without seed. 

Apart three paces did the river make us ; 
But Hellespont where Xerxes passed across 
(A curb still to all human arrogance), 

More hatred from Leander did not suffer 
For rolling between Sestos and Abydos, 
Than that from me, because it oped not then. 

'Ye are new-comers; and because I smile,' 
Began she, ' peradventure, in this place 
Elect to human nature for its nest, 

Some apprehension keeps you marvelling ; 
But the psalm Delectasti giveth light 
Which has the power to uncloud your intellect.' 

xxvin. 43-81. 

' Delectasti ' begins verse 5 of Psalm xci. (Vulgate) 2 which 
says, ' Thou, Lord, hast made me glad through Thy works : 
and I will rejoice in giving praise for the operations of Thy 
hands.' Matilda having thus explained the source of her 
smiling joy, declared herself ready to answer any farther 

1 When he accidentally shot into her the arrow of love fof Adonis. 

2 In the English Prayer-Book version, Psalm xcii. 4. 

The climate and productions of Eden. 187 

questions ; and Dante was not slow to ask how breeze and 
stream could exist where, as Statius had told him, there 
was neither wind nor rain. The reply taught him first of 
the breeze : The winds and rains from which Eden by its 
upheaval is exempt, are those caused below the Gate of 
S. Peter by the Sun's heat drawing up exhalations from 
Earth and Water. But the movement of the Heavens from 
East to West carries with it that of the Spheres of Air and 
^Ether (or Fire) : in the Sphere of Air the weather-vicissi- 
tudes completely break up this movement and render it 
insensible, while in the free Sphere of ^Ether it is unbroken 
and sensible, and constitutes the breeze wherewith the 
forest is tremulous and musical. The stricken plants in 
their turn impart to that breeze a virtue which it then in 
its gyration diffuses all around, fertilizing the generous soil 
with abundant plant-growth diverse in qualities. The 
Paradisiacal table-land contains within itself every kind of 
seed producing fruit ; and if perchance any plant in Earth's 
baser hemisphere seem to spring up without seed, its ger- 
mination must be attributed to some seed whirled -and 
dropped from Eden ; albeit no such fruit may be hoped for 
here as it there would have brought forth. And as to the 

* The water which thou seest springs not from vein 
Restored by vapor that the cold condenses, 
Like to a stream that gains or loses breath ; 

But issues from a fountain safe and certain, 
Which by the Will of God as much regains 
As it discharges, open on two sides. 

Upon this side with virtue it descends, 
Which takes away all memory of sin ; 

1 88 The Rivers of Eden. The Golden Age. 

On that, of every good deed done restores it. 
Here Lethe, as upon the other side 

Eunoe, it is called ; and worketh not 

If first on either side it be not tasted. 
This every other savor doth transcend ; 

And notwithstanding slaked so far may be 

Thy thirst, that I reveal to thee no more, 
I '11 give thee a corollary still in grace, 

Nor think my speech will be to thee less dear 

If it spread out beyond my promise to thee. 
Those who in ancient times have feigned in song 

The Age of Gold and its felicity, 

Dreamed of this place perhaps upon Parnassus. 
Here was the human race in innocence ; 

Here evermore was Spring, and every fruit ; 

This is the nectar of which each one speaks.* 
Then backward did I turn me wholly round 

Unto my Poets, and saw that with a smile 

They had been listening to these closing words ; 
Then to the beautiful lady turned mine eyes. 

Singing like unto an enamoured lady 
She, -with the ending of her words, continued : 
' Beati quorum tecta sunt peccata? * 

And even as Nymphs, that wandered all alone 
Among the sylvan shadows, sedulous 
One to avoid and one to see the sun, 

She then against the stream moved onward, going 
Along the bank, and I abreast of her, 
Her little steps with little steps attending. 

Between her steps and mine were not a hundred, 
When equally the margins gave a turn, 
In such a way, that to the East I faced. 

1 'Blessed is he whose sin is covered.' Ps. xxxii. I. 

The Procession of the Church militant. 189 

Nor even thus our way continued far 
Before the lady wholly turned herself 
Unto me, saying, ' Brother, look and listen ! * 

And lo ! a sudden lustre ran across 

On every side athwart the spacious forest, 
Such that it made me doubt if it were lightning. 

But since the lightning ceases as it comes, 

And that continuing brightened more and more, 
Within my thought I said, What thing is this ? ' 

And a delicious melody there ran 

Along the luminous air, whence holy zeal 
Made me rebuke the hardihood of Eve ; 

For there where earth and heaven obedient were, 
The woman only, and but just created, 
Could not endure to stay 'neath any veil ; 

Underneath which had she devoutly stayed, 
I sooner should have tasted those delights 
Ineffable, and for a longer time. 

xxvin. 121-148. xxix. 1-30. 

Marvellous indeed was the procession now advancing 
aTnmr__ Matilda's sidp of Lethe. The brightness quickly 
resolved itself into seven golden candlesticks all aflame, 
the melody into distinct Hosannas ; and here a wondering 
look towards Virgil was answered only in kind, for Pagan 
Rome and Limbo taught not of the songs of Sion, nor of 
the Sevenfold Gifts of the Holy Ghost. On and on, 
majestically slow, and preceding a white-robed train of 
Patriarchs, Prophets, and others who died in faith not 
having received the promises, came the seven flames, each 
trailing behind it a luminous aerial pennon of such hue that 
the seven pennons completed the rainbow typical of the 
seven Sacraments. Then followed, two and two, twenty- 

i go The Procession continued. 

four Elders crowned with lilies ; the twenty-four Books of 
the Old Testament l personified and crowned with the grace 
of Faith. Then the four Living Beings of Ezekjel and 
S. John, symbolic of the four Gospels : and in the square 
whereof they formed the corners the chariot of the Church, 
resting on the two wheels of the two Covenants, and 
drawn by the Gryphon blended of golden-plumed Eagle 
and Lion white and ruddy, meet emblem of our Blessed 
Lord in His two Natures Divine and Human ; with Feet 
resting on Earth and Wings stretching sheer up into Heaven. 
Beside the Christian right wheel danced three damsels, 
white, green, and red the Theological Virtues : beside the 
Jewish left wheel four purple-robed the Cardinal Virtues ; 
triple-eyed Prudence leading her sisters. Then followed 
the Writers as quasi-personifications of the remaining Books 
of the New Testament, two of them in consequence pre- 
sented and re-presented under varying aspects. ,JWjtll S 
Paul bearing the sword of the Spirit walked in physician's 
garb his historian S. Luke ; behind them SS. James, Peter, 
John, and Jude, in humble seeming as authors of the 
short Canonical Epistles ; last of all S.__ John once more, 
aged and solitary, in keen-faced slumber as the Seer of 
the Apocalypse. These were habited like their elder 
Brethren, excepting that their wreaths, as emblematic of 
Love rather than of Faith, were of roses and other red 

1 The 45 books of the Old Testament according to the Vulgate are 
thus counted as 24. The Pentateuch = 5 ; Joshua, Judges, Ruth = 3 ; 
4 of Kings = i ; 2 of Chronicles = I ; 2 of Ezra = i ; Tobit, Judith, 
Esther, Job = 4; Psalms = i; the Sapiential Books = 4; the Song 
of Songs=i; 5 Major Prophets = i; 12 Minor Prophets=i; 2 
of Maccabees = i. 

Beatrice descends. 191 

But now thunder gave the signal for a halt ; and Solomon 
from among the Twenty-four sang thrice ' Come, Spouse, 
from Lebanon ; ' and a many-voiced echo went up from his 

Even as the Blessed at the final summons 

Shall rise up quickened each one from his cavern, 

Uplifting light the reinvested flesh, 
So upon that celestial chariot 

A hundred rose ad vocem tanti sems, 1 

Ministers and messengers of life eternal. 
They all were saying, * Benedictus qui vents, ,* 2 

And, scattering flowers above and round about, 

' Manibus o date lilia plenis? 8 
Ere now have I beheld, as day began, 

The eastern hemisphere all tinged with rose, 

And the other heaven with fair serene adorned ; 
And the sun's face, uprising, overshadowed 

So that by tempering influence of vapors 

For a long interval the eye sustained it ; 
Thus in the bosom of a cloud of flowers 

Which from those hands angelical ascended, 

And downward fell again inside and out, 
Over her snow-white veil with olive cinct 

Appeared a lady under a green mantle, 

Vested in color of the living flame. 
And my own spirit, that already now 

So long a time had been, that in her presence 

Trembling with awe it had not stood abashed, 
Without more knowledge having by mine eyes, 

1 ' At the voice of so venerable an old man.' 

2 ' Blessed art thou that comest.' 

8 <dZneid\i. 88-?: Give lilies in handfuls. 

1 9 2 Virgil has van ished. 

Through occult virtue that from her proceeded 
Of ancient love the mighty influence felt. 

As soon as on my vision smote the power 

Sublime, that had already pierced me through 
Ere from my boyhood I had yet come forth, 

To the left hand I turned with that reliance 
With which the little child runs to his mother, 
When he has fear, or when he is afflicted, 

To say unto Virgilius : * Not a drachm 

Of blood remains in me, that does not tremble ; 
I know the traces of the ancient flame.' 

But us Virgilius of himself deprived 
Had left, Virgilius, sweetest of all fathers, 
Virgilius, to whom I for safety gave me : 

Nor whatsoever lost the ancient mother * 
Availed my cheeks now purified from dew, 
That weeping they should not again be darkened. 

xxx. 13-54. 

Crownless Human Science had given place to Divine 
Science olive-crowned, grace-vested, having an Unction 
from the Holy One and knowing all things; the Leader, 
Lord and Master of Intellect to the Treasure of Memory 
and of Love. Even at the point where Dante had laid her 
down dead would he now have taken her up living ; but 
she would take him up, not such as in vision he went forth 
of her death-chamber, but such as intervening life had 
made and set him before her then and there. 

1 Dante, because Virgilius has departed 
Do not weep yet, do not weep yet awhile ; 
For by another sword thou needs must weep.' 

1 The terrestrial Paradise forfeited by Eve. 

Beatrice begins her reproof. 193 

E'en as an admiral, who on poop and prow 

Comes to behold the people that are working 

In other ships, and cheers them to well-doing, 
Upon the left-hand border of the car, 

When at the sound I turned of my own name, 

Which of necessity is here recorded, 
I saw the Lady, who erewhile appeared 

Veiled underneath the angelic festival, 

Direct her eyes to me across the river. 
Although the veil, that from her head descended, 

Encircled with the foliage of Minerva, 

Did not permit her to appear distinctly, 
In attitude still royally majestic 

Continued she, like unto one who speaks, 

And keeps his warmest utterance in reserve : 
' Look at me well ; in sooth I 'm Beatrice ! 

How didst thou deign to come unto the Mountain ? 

Didst thou not know that man is happy here ? ' 
Mine eyes fell downward into the clear fountain, 

But, seeing myself therein, I sought the grass, 

So great a shame did weigh my forehead down. 
As to the son the mother seems superb, 

So she' appeared to me ; for somewhat bitter 

Tasteth the savor of severe compassion. 
Silent became she, and the Angels sang 

Suddenly, ' In Te, Domine, speravi : ' l 

But beyond pedes meos 1 did not pass. 
Even as the snow among the living rafters 

Upon the back of Italy 2 congeals, 

Blown on and drifted by Sclavonian winds, 

1 ' In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped ' ' my feet.' Psalm, xxx. 2-9, 
Vulgate ; xxxi. 1-9, English Prayer-Book version. 

2 The Apennines. 


194 Beatrice addresses the Angels : 

And then, dissolving, trickles through itself 
Whene'er the land that loses shadow breathes, 1 
So that it seems a fire that melts a taper ; 

E'en thus was I without a tear or sigh, 
Before the song of those who sing forever 
After the music of the eternal spheres. 

But when I heard in their sweet melodies 

Compassion for me, more than had they said, 
* O wherefore, lady, dost thou thus upbraid him ? ' 

The ice, that was about my heart congealed, 
To air and water changed, and in my anguish 
Through mouth and eyes came gushing from my breast. 

She, on the right-hand border of the car 
Still firmly standing, to those holy beings 
Thus her discourse directed afterwards : 

* Ye keep your watch in the eternal day, 
So that nor night nor sleep can steal from you 
One step the ages make upon their path ; 

Therefore my answer is with greater care, 
That he may hear me who is weeping yonder, 
So that the sin and dole be of one measure. 

Not only by the work of those great wheels, 
That destine every seed unto some end, 
According as the stars are in conjunction, 

But by the largess of celestial graces, 

Which have such lofty vapors for their rain 
That near to them our sight approaches not, 

Such had this man become in his new life 
Potentially, that every righteous habit 
Would have made admirable proof in him ; 

But so much more malignant and more savage 
Becomes the land untilled and with bad seed, 

1 When the wind blows from Africa, shadowless at noon within the 

turns her discourse to Dante. 195 

The more good earthly vigor it possesses. 

Some time did I sustain him with my look; 
Revealing unto him my youthful eyes, 
I led him with me turned in the right way. 

As soon as ever of my second age l 

I was upon the threshold and changed life, 
Himself from me he took and gave to others. 

When from the flesh to spirit I ascended 
And beauty and virtue were in me increased, 
I was to him less dear and less delightful ; 

And into ways untrue he turned his steps, 
Pursuing the false images of good, 
That never any promises fulfil ; 

Nor prayer for inspiration me availed, 

By means of which in dreams and otherwise 
I called him back, so little did he heed them. 

So low he fell, that all appliances 
For his salvation were already short, 
Save showing him the people of perdition. 

For this I visited the gates of death, 
And unto him, who so far up has led him, 
My intercessions were with weeping borne. 

God's lofty fiat would be violated, 
If Lethe should be passed, and if such viands 
Should tasted be, withouteri any scot 

Of penitence, that gushes forth in tears.' 

' O thou who art beyond the sacred river,' 
Turning to me the point of her discourse, 
That edgewise even had seemed to me so keen, 

She recommenced, continuing without pause, 
' Say, say if this be true ; to such a charge 

1 The second age, or Adolescence, was reckoned to begin at 25, of 
which Beatrice wanted 9 months at her death. 

1 96 Dante makes confession : 

Thy own confession needs must be conjoined.' 

My faculties were in so great confusion, 

That the voice moved, but sooner was extinct 
Than by its organs it was set at large. 

Awhile she waited ; then she said : ' What thinkest ? 
Answer me ; for the mournful memories 
In thee not yet are by the waters injured.' 

Confusion and dismay together mingled 

Forced such a Yes ! from out my mouth, that sight 
Was needful to the understanding of it. 

Even as a cross-bow breaks, when 't is discharged 
Too tensely drawn the bowstring and the bow, 
And with less force the arrow hits the mark, 

So I gave way beneath that heavy burden, 
Outpouring in a torrent tears and sighs, 
And the voice flagged upon its passage forth. 

Whence she to me : ' In those desires of mine 
Which led thee to the loving of that good, 
Beyond which there is nothing to aspire to, 

What trenches lying traverse or what chains 
Didst thou discover, that of passing onward 
Thou shouldst have thus despoiled thee of the hope ? 

And what allurements or what vantages 
Upon the forehead of the others l showed, 
That thou shouldst turn thy footsteps unto them ? ' 

After the heaving of a bitter sigh, 
Hardly had I the voice to make response, 
And with fatigue my lips did fashion it. 

Weeping I said : * The things that present were 
With their false pleasure turned aside my steps, 
Soon as your countenance concealed itself.' 

And she : * Shouldst thou be silent, or deny 

1 The other desires, *. e. of worldly goods and pleasures. 

is forgiven, yet further rebuked. 1 9 7 

What them confessest, not less manifest 

Would be thy fault, by such a Judge 't is known. 
But when from one's own cheeks comes bursting forth 

The accusal of the sin, in our tribunal 

Against the edge the wheel doth turn itself. 
But still, that thou mayst feel a greater shame 

For thy transgression, and another time 

Hearing the Sirens thou mayst be more strong, 
Cast down the seed of weeping and attend ; 

So shalt thou hear, how in an opposite way 

My buried flesh should have directed thee. 
Never to thee presented art or nature 

Pleasure so great as the fair limbs wherein 

I was enclosed, which scattered are in earth. 
And if the highest pleasure thus did fail thee 

By reason of my death, what mortal thing 

Should then have drawn thee into its desire ? 
Thou oughtest verily at the first shaft 

Of things fallacious to have risen up 

To follow me, who was no longer such. 
Thou oughtest not to have stooped thy pinions downward 

To wait for further blows, or little girl, 

Or other vanity of such brief use. 
The callow birdlet waits for two or three, 

But to the eyes of those already fledged, 

In vain the net is spread or shaft is shot.' 
Even as children silent in their shame 

Stand listening with their eyes upon the ground, 

And conscious of their fault, and penitent ; 
So was I standing ; and she said : * If thou 

In hearing suflferest pain, lift up thy beard 

And thou shalt feel a greater pain in seeing.' 
With less resistance is a robust holm 

Uprooted, either by a native wind 

198 Dante sinks under the memory of sin : 

Or else by that from regions of larbas, 1 

Than I upraised at her command my chin : 
And when she by the beard the face demanded, 
Well I perceived the venom of her meaning. 

And as my countenance was lifted up, 

Mine eye perceived those creatures beautiful 
Had rested from the strewing of the flowers ; 

And, still but little reassured, mine eyes 

Saw Beatrice turned round towards the monster, 2 
That is one person only in two natures. 

Beneath her veil, beyond the margent green, 
She seemed to me far more her ancient self 
To excel, than others here, when she was here. 

So pricked me then the thorn of penitence, - 
That of all other things the one which turned me 
Most to its love became the most my foe. 

Such self-conviction stung me at the heart 
O'erpowered I fell, and what I then became 
She knoweth who had furnished me the cause. 

xxx. 55-145. xxxi. 1-90. 

This sufficed. The memory of sin had done its work, 
and might now be forever left behind in the waters of 
Lethe. Ere yet Dante had recovered consciousness Ma- 

1 ' larbas, King of Gaetulia, from whom Dido bought the land for 
building Carthage.' 

2 Orig.yfenz = wild animal ; not necessarily, though in modern Italian 
usually, = beast of prey. This perplexing word is rendered by various 
translators in various ways. Mr. Johnston simply substitutes ' Gry- 
phon ; ' an expedient I on the whole prefer, considering the extreme 
difficulty of renderingyfmz literally, and the surpassing sacredness of 
the only interpretation I, in common with nearly all commentators, 
have attached to the symbol. It is not, however, the only interpreta- 
tion suggested by Mr. Longfellow. And I would remind the reader 
that, whatever may be the popular use of the term monster, it is pri- 
marily equivalent to prodigy. 

drinks its oblivion in Lethe. 199 

tilda had immersed him up to the throat; then having 
drawn him conscious to the opposite bank she plunged his 
head for the draught of oblivion. Next, graciously owned 
and led by the Four Virtues, he was strengthened to behold 
within the fixed and veiled eyes of Beatrice the double- 
natured changeless Gryphon changefully mirrored in each 
nature alternately. And finally, at the acceptable inter- 
cession of the Three Virtues, the unveiled face beamed full 
upon him, and he beheld that second beauty into which the 
first had been transfigured. 

After this followed visions embodying the liistory of the 
Church and of the Empire, with an exhortation from Bea- 
trice to bear faithful witness of the things heard and seen : 
and behold the time was come to drink of Eunoe and revive 
the memory of good. 

And more coruscant and with slower steps 

The sun was holding the meridian circle, 

Which, with the point of view, shifts here and there, 
When halted (as he cometh to a halt, 

Who goes before a squadron as its escort, 

If something new he find upon his way) 
The ladies seven at a dark shadow's edge, 

Such as, beneath green leaves and branches black, 

The Alp upon its frigid border wears. 
In front of them the Tigris and Euphrates 

Methought I saw forth issue from one fountain, 

And slowly part, like friends, from one another. 
4 O light, O glory of the human race ! 

What stream is this which here unfolds itself 

From out one source, and from itself withdraws ? ' 
For such a prayer, 't was said unto me, * Pray 

Matilda that she tell thee ; ' and here answered, 

2OO Dante drinks of Eunde. 

As one does who doth free himself from blame, 
The beautiful lady : l This and other things 

Were told to him by me ; and sure I am 

The water of Lethe has not hid them from him.' 
And Beatrice : ' Perhaps a greater care, 

Which oftentimes our memory takes away, 

Has made the vision of his mind obscure. 
But Eunoe behold, that yonder rises ; 

Lead him to it, and, as thou art accustomed, 

Revive again the half-dead virtue in him.' 
Like gentle soul, that maketh no excuse, 

But makes its own will of another's will ^ 

As soon as by a sign it is disclosed, 
Even so, when she had taken hold of me, 

The beautiful lady moved, and unto Statius 

Said, in her womanly manner, ' Come with him.' 
If, Reader, I possessed a longer space 

For writing it, I yet would sing in part 

Of the sweet draught that ne'er would satiate me : 
But inasmuch as full are all the leaves 

Made ready for this second canticle, 

The curb of art no farther lets me go. 
From the most holy water I returned 

Regenerate, in the manner of new trees 

That are renewed with a new foliage, 
Pure and disposed to mount unto the stars. 

xxxin. 103-145. 


La forma general di Paradise. 
The general form of Paradise. 

Par. xxxi. 52. 

~T)ARADISE consists, as we have seen, of Nine Heavens, 
J. each a revolving hollow sphere enclosing and en- 
closed, and of the uncontained Empyrean which contains 

As star differeth from star in glory, so Saint from Saint. 
Whereof Dante has constructed a marvellous parable : for 
in each successive Heaven, as he ascends, Blessed Souls 
manifest themselves visibly and audibly as denizens, while 
yet each in very truth has his immovable eternal seat in 
the ineffable Rose of the Empyrean. And so the lower 
or higher place of manifestation serves for a token whereby 
human sense may apprehend the lower or higher degree 
of that vision of God which constitutes beatitude. .When 
therefore Saints) are spoken of as^dwelling in any Heaven 
belowThe highest, .the statement must be understood not of 
real but of apparent or representative abode. In aliTKow- 
ever, beatitude is perfect according to the capacity of each ; 
for entire conformity with the Divine Will produces entire 
satisfaction in the appointments of that Will, and in the 
exact order resulting throughout the Universe from exact 

2O2 The condition of the Blessed. 

justice in the apportionment of rewards. As Bellarmine 
illustrates this subject if a father clothe all his children in 
cloth of gold, the measure fits the growth of each, yet all 
are alike complete in covering and adornment. 

In their apparent Star-abodes the Saints show themselves 
swathed in cocoons of light, flashing brighter with, each 
accidental increase of joy or charity; in their real Rose- 
seats the)T are seen without this raiment. 

Their gaze is ceaselessly fixed on the Beatific Vision, and 
their motion rapid in proportion to the vividness wherewith 
they apprehend that Vision. Their knowledge is unerring, 
because they behold mirrored in God all things meet for 
them to know; their speech is the flawless reflection of 
that unerring knowledge. 

In Hell, as we have seen, the utmost possible perversion 
of the Understanding by the Bestialism or spiritual Folly 
of Unbelief and Misbelief occupies the exceptional transi- 
tional Circle between four upper and three lower Circles of 
less and of more perverted Will ; the frailty of Incontinence 
being above, the depravity of Malice below. In Heaven 
a somewhat similar arrangement may perhaps be traced. 
The utmost possible sanctification of the Understanding by 
the spiritual gifts of the Wisdom and Knowledge growing 
out of Faith and Orthodoxy, occupies the Heaven of the 
Sun, apparently exceptional and transitional between three 
lower and four upper Heavens of less and ofmore sanctified 

Will; the imperfection of Earthliness being below, as far 
as Earth's shadow extends to the celestial spheres; the 
perfection of Heavenliness above, in light unshadowed. 

W T e will now consider the special characteristics of each 
Pknet and its denizens. 

Heaven I. II. III. IV. V. VI. 203 

The First Heaven, revolved by the Angels as the lowest 
of the Nine Orders, is that of the waxing and, waning Moon, 
and therefore of Wills imperfect through Instability. Here 
dwell Nuns whose vows failed of entire fulfilment ; inas- 
much as, removed by violence from the cloister, and bearing 
thereto a changeless persevering love, they yet braved not 
all^_evils_4o__xetiirn thither so soon as freed from bodily 

The Second Heaven, revolved by the Archangels, is that 
of Mercury, ' more veiled from the solar rays than is any 
other star : ' 1 the abode of Wills_ imperfect through_that 
Love of Fame which half puts out within- the soul the rays 
oT^he Love of God even as they dart upward. Here are 
men of activity and eloquence, who used their powers for 
good, but not without regard to the praise of their fellow- 

TEe Third Heaven, revolved by the Principalities, is that 
of Venus, now before and now behind the Sun, and the last 
to which Earth's shadow reaches; indwelt by Wills im- 
perfect through excess of mere human love. 

The Fourth and middle Planetar}LHeaeft, revolved by the 
Powers, is that of the Sun, the chief material light, and 
the dwelling of the great spiritu^Laiidjn^dlectuanights, the 
holy and eminent Doctors in Divim>^a.ridPhUQSQr)hy. 

The Fifth Heaven, revolved by the Virtues, is that of 
blood-red Mars, the abode of Martyrs, Confessors, and 
Warriors on behalf of the Faith. 

The Sixth Heaven, revolved by the Dominations, is that 
of Jupiter brilliantly white, inhabited by Rulers eminent for 

1 Convito ii. 14. 

2O4 Heaven VII. VIILIX. The Empyrean. 

The -Seventh and last Planetary Heaven, revolved by the 
Thrones, is the cold orbit of aturrfit dwelling of those 
Monks and Hermits who, 

rose to that heavenly Contemplation whereto this star was 
believed to influence men. 

The Eighth or^Starry Heaven, revolved by the Cherubim, 
is that of the ^ixeolStars) including of course the constella- 
tions of the Zodiac. Hither descends the^ Triumph of 
Christ, here ling^r_the__Apostles with the aint^>of the Old 
and of the New Testament. 

The Ninth or Starless Crystalline Heaven is the^Primum 
Mobile, revolved by the Seraphim; here it is that the Nine 
Orders of the Celestial Hierarchy circle in fiery rings around 
the Light Which no man can approach unto, manifested as 
an Atomic Point. 

No more of Time, no more of Space : left behind in the 
Crystalline Primum Mobile, they have no place in the Still 
Fire- Heaven, the Empyrean, Essential Light, Essential 
Love, possessing all things, and in very contentment motion- 
less. But the Elect have place there, yea have no place 
save only there ; Time and Space may furnish a parable of 
their condition, Time and Space can construct no home for 
their abode. Their home is the mystical White Rose into 
which they are composed around the Lake of Divine Light 
whose circumference would outgird the Sun, and which 
constitutes the central Yellow of this Flower ineffable. 
Petals upon petals, petals upon petals, petals upon petals ; 
the narrowest circuit encompasses the Sun-outmeasuring 
Lake, what should suffice to fill the widest? And what 
should be hidden, what withheld from the enthroned Souls 
that form those petals, seeing that they gaze into the Very 

The White Rose of the Blessed. 205 

Light, and that the multitude of the Heavenly Host as bees 
deposit amid their recesses the Peace and Glow brought 
down from the Bosom of God ? All eyes and all love are 
here set one way, even towards God Triune. 

The order of the Rose includes both a horizontal and a 
vertical division. The horizontal division takes place at 
mid-height, all the Blessed thence downwards having died 
in infancy, all thence upwards at years of discretion. 
Among the infants no less than among the adults there are 
varying degrees of glory, corresponding to the varying 
degrees of grace wherewith Dante arguing from the dif- 
ference made before birth between Jacob and Esau 
believes them to have been endowed. The vertical division 
takes place at two opposite points of the circumference, 
the left half of the thrones being filled by those who 
looked forward to Christ Coming, the right half as yet 
only partially occupied by those who looked backward to 
Christ Come. On the one side the dividing line consists 
of a chain of holy women, five of those designated by 
name being ancestresses of our Blessed Lord : at the top 
of course S. Mary, under her Eve, then Rachel, beside 
whom, as we learned at the beginning of the poem, is seated 
Beatrice ; then Sarah, Rebekah, Judith, Ruth ; the rest are 
unnamed. On the other side, opposite S. Mary, S. John 
the Baptist forms the head of the second dividing line, 
which consists of holy Mandriarchs ; S. Francis, S. Bene- 
dict, S. Augustine being alone named. To the right of the 
Blessed Virgin sit S. Peter first, next S. John the Evangelist ; 
to her left first Adam, next Mqses. To the left of S. 
John the Baptist, opposite S. Peter, is S. Anne, Mother 
of the Blessed Virgin; to his right, opposite Adam, S. 


206 The Alpha and Omega. 

Virgin and Martyr, and the type of Illuminating 

Above and beyond this there is and can be naught save 
the Alpha and_Omega, Jhe^First Beginning and the Last 
End : the Ever- Blessed Trinity in Unity, Whereinto is 
taken for evermore the Glorified Humanity of God In- 


Presso di lei e nel mondo felice. 

Close at her side and in the Happy World. 

Par. xxv. 139, 

THE means by which Dante was lifted from the Ter- 
restrial Paradise into the wholly unearthly Fire of 
the last Elemental Sphere, and thence through each suc- 
cessive Heaven (except one) even into the Empyrean, was 
a fixed gaze.-into the eyes of Beatrice ; and the increase of 
bliss in each ascent was typified by the increase in the 
beauty of her smile. For inasmuch as Beatrice is the figure 
of Divine Science, t in her face appear things that tell of the 
pleasures iofj?anidise ; and . . . the place wherein this appears 
. . . is in her eyes and her smile. And here it should be 
known that the eyes of Wisdom are the two demonstrations, 
by which is seen the truth most certainly ; and her smile is 
her persuasions, in which is shown forth the interior light of 
Wisdom under some veil : and in these two things is felt 
that highest pleasure of beatitude, which is the greatest 
good in Paradise.' l 

The Sun, which rises on the world through divers pas- 

1 Cowvito iii. 15. 

2o8 The upper region of the Fire-Spheres. 

sages, was now in the most favorable of all, that is, the 
equinoctial : 

Almost that passage had made morning there 
And evening here, and there was wholly white 
That hemisphere, and black the other part, 

When Beatrice towards the left-hand side 
I saw turned round, and gazing at the sun ; 
Never did eagle fasten so upon it ! 

And even as a second ray is wont 
To issue from the first and reascend, 
Like to a pilgrim who would fain return, 

Thus of her action, through the eyes infused 
In my imagination, mine I made, 
And sunward fixed mine eyes beyond our wont. 

There much is lawful which is here unlawful 
Unto our powers, by virtue of the place 
Made for the human species as its own. 1 

Not long I bore it, nor so little while 
But I beheld it sparkle round about 
Like iron that comes molten from the fire ; 

And suddenly it seemed that day to day 
Was added, as if He Who has the power 
Had with another sun the heaven adorned. 

Par. i. 43-63 

In that instant Dante had been drawn up from the 
Terrestrial Paradise into the upper region of the Elemental 
Fire, where the music of the Spheres soon burst upon his 

With eyes upon the everlasting wheels 
Stood Beatrice all intent, and I, on her 
Fixing my vision from above removed, 

1 The Garden of Eden. 

The music of the Spheres. 209 

Such at her aspect inwardly became 
As Glaucus, tasting of the herb that made him 1 
Peer of the other gods beneath the sea. 

To represent transhumanize in words 

Impossible were ; the example, then, suffice 
Him for whom Grace the experience reserves. 

If I was merely what of me Thou newly 

Createdst, Love Who governest the Heaven, 
Thou knowest, Who didst lift me with Thy light ! 

When now the wheel, which Thou dost make eternal. 2 
Desiring Thee, made me attentive to it 
By harmony Thou dost modulate and measure, 2 

Then seemed to me so much of Heayen enkindled 
By the sun's flame, that neither rain nor river 
E'er made a lake so widely spread abroad. 

The newness of the sound and the great light 
Kindled in me a longing for their cause, 
Never before with such acuteness felt ; 

Whence she, who saw me as I saw myself, 
To quiet in me my perturbed mind, 
Opened her mouth, ere I did mine to ask, 

And she began : * Thou makest thyself so dull 
With false imagining, that thou seest not 

What thou wouldst see if thou hadst shaken it oflf. 
Thou art not upon earth, as thou believest ; 
But lightning, fleeing its appropriate site, 

1 Glaucus was a fisherman, who seeing some fish caught by him 
revive on touching the salt-meadow-grass growing on the shore, ate 
of the same herb and so became a sea-god. 

2 ' According to Plato the Heavens ever move seeking the Soul of 
the World, and desirous to find it; that Soul is God.' (Fraticelli in 
loc.) The sense of these lines is : When now the heavenly revolution, 
which Thou, O Love, dost render perpetual through the desire Thou 
infusest for Thyself, attracted my attention by its harmony i.e the 
music of the Spheres. 

2io Man, like Fire, tends upward. 

Ne'er ran as thou, who thitherward returnest.' 

If of my former doubt I was divested 

By these brief little words more smiled than spoken, 
I in a new one was the more ensnared ; 

And said : ' Already did I rest content 

From great amazement ; but am now amazed 
In what way I transcend these bodies light.' 

Whereupon she, after a pitying sigh, 

Her eyes directed tow'rds me with that look 
A mother casts on a delirious child ; 

And she began : ' All things whate'er they be 
Have order among themselves, and this is form, 
That makes the universe resemble God. 

The Providence that regulates all this 

Makes with Its light the Heaven forever quiet, 
Wherein that turns which has the greatest haste. 

And thither now, as to a site decreed, 
Bears us away the virtue of that cord 
Which aims its arrows at a joyous mark. 

True is it, that as oftentimes the form 
Accords not with the intention of the art, 
Because in answering is matter deaf, 

So likewise from this course doth deviate 

Sometimes the creature, who the power possesses, 
Though thus impelled, to swerve some other way, 

(In the same wise as one may see the fire 
Fall from a cloud,) if the first impetus 
Earthward is wrested by some false delight. 

Thou shouldst not wonder more, if well I judge, 
At thine ascent, than at a rivulet 
From some high mount descending to the lowland. 

Marvel it would be in thee, if deprived 

Of hindrance, thou wert seated down below, 

The Moon. 211 

As if on earth the living fire were quiet.' 
Thereat she heavenward turned again her face. 

i. 64-105, 121-142. 

For the Elemental Fire is no abode of glorified Spirits ; 
and therefore 

The con-created and perpetual thirst 
For the realm deiform did bear us on, 
As swift almost as ye the Heavens behold. 

Upward gazed Beatrice, and I at her ; 
And in such space perchance as strikes a bolt 
And flies, and from the notch unlocks itself, 

Arrived I saw me where a wondrous thing 
Drew to itself my sight ; and therefore she 
From whom no care of mine could be concealed, 

Towards me turning, blithe as beautiful, 
Said unto me : ' Fix gratefully thy mind 
On God, Who unto the first star 1 has brought us.' 

It seemed to me a cloud encompassed us, 
Luminous, dense, consolidate and bright 
As adamant on which the sun is striking. 

Into itself did the eternal pearl l 
Receive us, even as water doth receive 
A ray of light, remaining still unbroken. 

If I was body (and we here conceive not 
How one dimension tolerates another, 
Which needs must be if body enter body), 

More the desire should be enkindled in us 
That Essence to behold, Wherein is seen 2 

1 The Moon. 

2 If I was in the body (a thing wholly incomprehensible to us on 
earth, inasmuch as we cannot conceive of one physical dimension en- 
during the insertion of another and yet remaining unchanged, which 
needs must have been if my body had entered within the Moon's body), 

2 1 2 The Blessed in the Mccn. 

How God and our own nature were united. 

There will be seen what we receive by faith, 
Not demonstrated, but self-evident 
In guise of the first truth that man believes. 

I made reply : ' Madonna, as devoutly 
As most I can do I give thanks to Him 
Who has removed me from the mortal world.' 

H. 19-48. 

Dante then inquired respecting the Moon's spots, and was 
answered that they are the diverse effect of the Divine virtue 
infused through the Angelic Movers of the First Heaven. 
He was about to confess himself convinced of the erroneous 
nature of his previous theories on this subject 

But there appeared a vision^ which withdrew me 
So close to it, in order to be seen, 
That my confession I remembered not. 

Such as through polished and transparent glass, 
Or waters crystalline and undisturbed, 
But not so deep as that their bed be lost, 

Come back again the outlines of our faces 
So feeble, that a pearl on forehead white 
Comes not less speedily unto our eyes ; 

Such saw I many faces prompt to speak, 
So that I faTrnTerror opposite 
To that which kindled love 'twixt man and fountain 1 

As soon as I became aware of them, 

Esteeming them as mirrored semblances, 

then so great and blessed a marvel as a human bodily presence in 
Heaven ought the more to enkindle in us the desire to behold that 
Essence of our Incarnate Lord, Wherein, etc. 

1 Narcissus took a reflected for a real face, Dante took real faces for 

Pic car da de Donati. 

To see of whom they were, mine eyes I turned, 
And nothing saw, and once more turned them forward 
Direct into the light of my sweet Guide, 
Who smiling kindled in her holy eyes. 

* Marvel thou not,' she said to me, 'because 

I smile at this thvjmerile conceit. 

Since on the truth it trusts not yet jts foot, 

But turns thee, as 't is wont, on emptiness. 

True substances are these which thou beholdest, 
Here relegate for breaking of some vow. 

Th prpfnrp_sppak with tl^rp^Jisten and believer 
For the True Light, which giveth peace to them, 
Permits them not to turn from It their feet.' 

*And I unto the Shade that seemed most wishful 
To speak directed me, and I began, 
As one whom too great eagerness bewilders : 

* O well-created Spirit, who in the rays 

Of life eternal dost the sweetness taste 
Which being untasted ne'er is comprehended, 

Grateful 't will be to me, if thou content me 
Both with thy name and with your destiny.' 
Whereat she promptly and with laughing eyes : 

' Our charity doth never shut the doors 
Against a just desire, except as One l 
Who wills that all her court be like herself. 

I was a virgin sister in the world ; 
And if thy mind doth contemplate me well, 
The being more fair will not conceal me from thee, 

But thou sjijiJjLxegpgnize I am Picx ar da 1 

Who, stationed here among these other blessed, 
Myself am blessed in the slowest sphere.' 

in. 7- 

1 The Blessed Virgin. 

Each content with his place in Heaven. 

Piccarda was the sister of Dante's wife Gemma de' 
Donati, and of thatForese, whom in Purgatory we saw 
expiating the sin of Gluttonyxy She continued : 

' All our affections, that alone inflamed 

Are in the pleasure of the Holy Ghost, 

Rejoice at being of His order formed ; 2 
And this allotment, which appears so low, 

Therefore is given us, because our vows ^ 

Have been neglected and in some part void.' 
Whence I to her: In your miraculous aspects 

There shines I know not what of the divine, 

Which doth transform you from our first conceptions. 
Therefore I was not swift in my remembrance ; 

But what thou tellest me now aids me so, 

That the refiguring is easier to me. 
But tell me, ye who injthis place are happy, 

Are you desirous of a higher place, 

To see more or to make yourselves more friends ? ? 3 
First with those other Shades she smiled a little ; 

Thereafter answered me so full of gladness, 

She seemed to burn in the first fire of love : 


' Brother, our will is quieted by virtue. 
Of charity, that makes us wish alone 
Eorjthat we have, nor-gives us jhirst forjnore. 

If to be more exalted we aspired, 
Discordant would our aspirations be 
Unto the will of Him Who here secludes us ; 

Which thou shall see finds no place in these circles, 
If being in charity is jieedful here, 
And if thou lookest well into its nature ; 

Nay, 't is essential to this blest existence 

>ee page 173. 2 Professed nuns of His order. 

More the friends of God. 

Piccardak 'his 

2 i 5 

To keep itself within the Will Divine, 
Wliereby our very wishes are made one; 

So that, as we are station above station 

Throughout this realm, to all the realm 't is pleasing, 
As to the King, who makes His Will our will. 

AndJIis_WniJs_our peace ; this is the sea 
To which is moving" oh ward whatsoever 
It doth create, and all that nature makes.' 

Then it was clear to me how everywhere 
In Heaven is Paradise, although the grace 
Of good supreme there rain not in one measure. 

But as it comes to pass, if one food sates, 
And for another still remains the longing, 
We ask for this, and that decline with thanks, 

E'en thus did I, with gesture and with word, 
To learn from her what was the web wherein 
She did not ply the shuttle to the end. 

' A perfect life and merit high in-heaven 
A lady l o'er us,' said she, * by whose rule 
Down in your world they vest and veil themselves, 

That until death they may both watch and sleep 
Beside that Spouse Who every vow accepts 
Which charity conformeth to His pleasure. 

To follow her, in girlhood from the world 

f -- - -- __ 

I fled, and in her habit shut myself, 
And pledged me to the pathway of her sect. 
Then men accustomed unto evil more 

Than unto good, from the sweet cloister tore me ; 
God knows what afterward my life became.' 

in. 52-108. 

Her brother ^Gorso had forced Piccarda away from her 
cloister, and married her to Rosselin della Tosa; she sur- 
vived the. marriage only a few months. She went on : 

1 S. Clara, foundress of the Poor Clares. 

2 1 6 The Empress Constance. 

'This other Splendor, which to thee reveals 
Itself on my right side, and is enkindled 
With all the illumination of our sphere, 

What of myself I say applies to her ; 

A nun was she, and likewise from her head 
Was ta'en the shadow of the sacred wimple. 

But when she too was to the world returned 
Against her wishes and against good usage, 
Of the heart's veil she never was divested. 

Of great Costanza this is the effulgence, 
Who from the second wind of Suabia 
Brought forth the third and latest puissance.' 

in. 109-120. 

Constance was the daughter of Roger I., King of Naples 
and Sicily, who was succeeded immediately by his son 
William the Bad, next by his grandson William the Good. 
This last reigned but a very short time ; and as his early 
childless death was foreseen, Constance, his aunt and sole 
heiress, was taken, say various ancient but not uncontra- 
dicted historians, 1 from her convent at Palermo, and com- 
pelled to marry Henry VI., son of the Emperor Frederick 
Barbarossa of Suabia, and father by her of Frederick II., in 
his turn father of the Manfred who in Purgatory styled 
himself Constance's grandson. 2 

Thus unto me she spake and then began 
* Ave Maria ' singing, and in singing 
Vanished, as through deep water something heavy. 

My sight, that followed her as long a time 
As it was possible, when it had lost her 
Turned round unto the mark of more desire, 

And wholly unto Beatrice reverted ; 

1 Fraticelli in Joe. (j^See page 128. 

The true abode of the Blessed. 2 1 7 

But she such lightnings flashed into mine eyes, 
That at the first my sight endured it not ; 
And this in questioning more backward made me. 

in. 121-130. 

Dante had two questions to ask : the one, suggested by 
what he had seen, was concerning the abode of the Blessed ; 
appearances seeming to justify Plato's hypothesis of the 
return of disembodied souls to the stars. Beatrice, discern- 
ing in his mind this unexpressed doubt, thus solved it : 

' He of the Seraphim most absorbed in God, 

Moses, and Samuel, and whichever John 

Thou mayst select, I say, and even Mary, 
Have not in any other Heaven their seats, 

Than have those Spirits that just appeared to thee, 

Nor of existence more or fewer years ; 
But all make beautiful the primal circle, 

And have sweet life in different degrees, 

By feeling more or less the eternal Breath. 
They showed themselves here, not because allotted 

This sphere has been to them, but to give sign 

Of the celestial which is least exalted. 
To speak thus is adapted to your rnind, 

Since only through the sense it apprehendeth 

What then it worthy makes of intellect. 
On this account the Scripture condescends 

Unto your faculties, and feet and hands 

To God attributes, and means something else ; 
And Holy Church under an aspect human 

Gabriel and Michael represents to you, 

And him who made Tobias whole again.' 

IV. 28-48. 

Dante's second question, suggested by what he had heard, 
was ho\v violence suffered at the hands of another can 

2 1 8 Wherein Violence consists. 

lessen the merit of one whose good-will endures unchanged. 
Beatrice replied by explaining the distinction between 
absolute and relative will: 

* That as unjust our justice should appear 

In eyes of mortals, is an argument 

Of faith, and not of sin heretical. 1 
But still, that your perception may be able 

To thoroughly penetrate this verity, 

As thou desirest, I will satisfy thee. 
If it be violence when he who suffers 

Co-operates not with him who uses force, 

These Souls were not on that account excused ; 
For will is never quenched unless it will, 

But operates as nature doth in fire, 

If violence a thousand times distort it. 
Hence, if it yieldeth more or less, it seconds 

The force ; 2 and these have done so, having power 

Of turning back unto the holy place. 
If their will had been perfect, like to that 

Which Lawrence fast upon his gridiron held, 

And Mutius made severe to his own hand, 
It would have urged them back along the road 

Whence they were dragged as soon as they were free ; 

But such a solid will is all too rare. 

1 That heavenly Justice should appear unjust in the eyes of mortals 
is a reason why they should exercise faith, not why they should fall 
into heresy. 

2 If that only be properly called an act of violence in which he who 
is forced co-operates not in the least degree with him who forces, these 
Souls cannot be excused as having suffered violence. For Will never 
can be quenched except by its own consent ; even as fire, after endur- 
ing a thousand attempts to make it burn downward, invariably burns 
upward the moment it is left to itself. If then, bodily force ceasing, 
the Will still yields more or less, it does co-operate with that force ; 
and these, etc. 

Of Will absolute and relative. 2 1 9 

And by these words, if thou hast gathered them 

As thou shouldst do, the argument is refuted 

That would have still annoyed thee many times. 
But now another passage runs across 

Before thine eyes, and such that by thyself 

Thou couldst not thread it ere thou wouldst be weary. 
I have for certain put into thy mind 

That Soul beatified could never lie, 

For it is ever near the primal Truth, 
And then thou from Piccarda mightst have heard 

Costanza kept affection for the veil, 

So that she seemeth here to contradict me. 
Many times, brother, has it come to pass, 

That, to escape from peril, with reluctance 

That has been done it was not right to do, 
E'en as Alcmaeon (who, being by his father 

Thereto entreated, his own mother slew) 

Not to lose pity pitiless became. 1 
At this point I desire thee to remember 

That force with will commingles, and they cause 

That the offences cannot be excused. 
Will absolute consenteth not to evil ; 

But in so far consenteth as it fears, 

If it refrain, to fall into more harm. 
Hence when Piccarda uses this expression, 

She meaneth the will absolute, and I 

The other, so that both of us speak truth.' 
Sudh was the flowing of the holy river 

That issued from the fount whence springs all truth : 

This put to rest my wishes one and all. 
' O love of the first Lover, O divine,' 

Said I forthwith, ' whose speech inundates me 

1 ' Not to lose piety ' is the sense ; but then the play on pietb = piety 
and /*'#/, would be lost. See also Note i, p. 150. 

220 Of Truth and Doubt. Of Free Will. 

And warms me so, it more and more revives me, 
My own affection is not so profound 

As to suffice in rendering grace for grace ; 

Let Him, who sees and can, thereto respond. 
Well I perceive that never sated is 

Our intellect unless the Truth illume it, 

Beyond which nothing true expands itself. 
It rests therein, as wild beast in his lair, 

When it attains It ; and it can attain It ; 

If not, then each desire would frustrate be. 
Therefore springs up, in fashion of a shoot, 

Doubt at the foot of truth ; and this is nature, 

Which to the top from height to height impels us. 1 
This doth invite me, this assurance give me 

With reverence, Lady, to inquire of you 

Another truth, which is obscure to me. 
I wish to know if man can satisfy you 

For broken vows with other good deeds, so 

That in your balance they will not be light.' 

iv. 67-138. 

The answer was : 

* The greatest gift that in His largess God 
Creating made, and unto His own goodness 
Nearest conformed, and that which He doth prize 

Most highly, is the freedom of the will, 
Wherewith the creatures of intelligence 

1 Well do I see that our intellect can never be fully satisfied, except 
it be irradiated by that Truth which Itself so includes all truth that 
aught outside It is not truth, but falsehood. In the aforesaid Truth 
our intellect rests as a wild beast in his lair, so soon as it has attained 
thereto ; and thereto it is able to attain, else would its every desire be 
frustrate. Therefore at the foot of every ascertained truth there ever 
springs a shoot of doubt concerning some further truth ; such is man's 
nature, impelling him from peak to peak even to the summit. 

Vv 1 - 

Vv' ~. i . 

Concerning Vows. 

Both all and only were and are endowed. 1 
Now wilt thou see, if thence thou reasonest, 
The high worth of a vow, if it be made 
So that when thou consentest God consents ; 2 
For, closing between God and man the compact, 
A sacrifice is of this treasure made, 
Such as I say, and made by its own act. 
What can be rendered then as compensation ? 

Think'st thou to make good use of what thou 'st offered, 
With gains ill gotten thou wouldst do good deed.' 

v. 19-33- 

Nevertheless, the essence of a vow being the binding of 
the will rather than the particular point wherein it is bound, 
Holy Church has a dispensing power to which recourse may 
lawfully be had on just occasion : 

' But let none shift the burden on his shoulder 
At his arbitrament, without the turning 
Both of the white and of the yellow key ; 

And every permutation deem as foolish, 
If in the substitute the thing relinquished," 
As the four is in six, be not contained. 

Therefore whatever thing has so great weight 
In value that it drags down every balance, 
Cannot be satisfied with other spending.' 8 

v. 55-63. 

But from all this it obviously follows that vows must not be 
lightly made. 

And then Beatrice with her neophyte passed into Mercury, 

1 All rational creatures, and none but rational creatures, are endowed 
with free will. 

2 So that it be made according to the known Will of God. 
8 Cannot be made up for by any other offering. 

222 The Blessed in Mercury. Justinian 

where shine the Spirits of men eloquent and active in good, 
but not free from the love of fame. Here Dante con- ! 
versed at great length with the .Emperor Justinian, who 
traced out the progress and achievements of the Roman 
Eagle from the days of ^Eneas to those of Augustus, and 
added : 

4 But what the standard that has made me speak 
Achieved before, and after should achieve 
Throughout the mortal realm that lies beneath it, 

Becometh in appearance mean and dim, 
If in the hand of the third Caesar seen 
With eye unclouded and affection pure, 

Because the living Justice that inspires me 
Granted it, in the hand of him I speak of, 
The glory of doing vengeance for its wrath. 

Now here attend to what I answer thee ; 
Later it ran with Titus to do vengeance 
Upon the vengeance of the ancient sin.' 

vi. 82-93. 

* The vengeance of the ancient sin ' is the Death of our 
Blessed Lord as the atoning Victim for the entire race of 
man. That in any view of this most awful subject the 
human instrumentality whereby that precious Death was 
effected should be regarded otherwise than as the uttermost 
stretch of wickedness, seems to us no less blasphemous than 
inconceivable ; yet it is the loving and reverent Dante who 
writes of such instrumentality as ' the glory ' of ' the Third 
Caesar ' Tiberius. The whole passage is incomprehensible 
till read in the light of the elaborate argument whereby, in 
the treatise De Monarchid, Rome is professedly demonstrated 
to be by Divine right the centre of empire over the whole 

treats of various matters. 223 

terrestrial globe. The crowning proofs adduced are two. 
First, our Saviour's having implicitly approved Augustus' 
claim of world-wide sovereignty, by willing to be so born as 
to be registered his subject. Secondly, the Divine accept- 
ance of the Crucifixion as a punishment making satisfaction 
for the sins of all mankind ; which it could not have been 
if inflicted by any one save the ordinary judge, or by any 
ordinary judge not having jurisdiction over all mankind. 1 
By us, of course, the conclusion is only less inadmissible 
than the argument. But we probably have here the key to 
a perplexing problem why Pontius Pilate is nowhere met 
with in Hell. 

After glancing at Charlemagne, Justinian went on severely 
to reprehend the ill-doing both of Guelphs and Ghibellines, 
and then set forth the condition of himself and his com- 
panions : 

' This little planet doth adorn itself 
With the good Spirits that have active been, 
That fame and honor might come after them ; 

And whensoever the desires mount thither, 
Thus deviating, must perforce the rays 
Of the true love less vividly mount upward. 

But in commensuration of our wages 

< With our desert is portion of our joy, 
Because we see them neither less nor greater. 

Herein doth living Justice sweeten so 
Affection in us, that for evermore 

It cannot warp to any iniquity. 

Voices diverse make up sweet melodies ; 
So in this life of ours the seats diverse 
Render sweet harmony among these spheres ; 

1 De MonarchiA, ii. 10, n. 

224 Romeo. 

And in the compass of this present pearl 
Shineth the sheen of Romeo, of whom 
The grand and beauteous work was ill rewarded. 

But the Provencals who against him wrought, 
They have not laughed, and therefore ill goes he 
Who makes his hurt of the good deeds of others. 

Four daughters, and each one of them a queen, 
Had Raymond Berenger, and this for him 
Did Romeo, a poor man and a pilgrim ; 

And then malicious words incited him 
To summon to a reckoning this just man, 
Who rendered to him seven and five for ten. 

Then he departed poor and stricken in years, 
And if the world could know the heart he had, 
In begging bit by bit his livelihood, 

Though much it laud him, it would laud him more.' 

vi. 112-142. 

He who is here called Romeo (probably not a proper 
name, but a term equivalent to f pilgrim to Rome ' J ), arriv- 
ing a stranger at the court of Raymond Berenger Count of 
Provence, became his trusted seneschal, tripled his income 
while maintaining his grandeur, and contrived the brilliant 
marriages of his four daughters Margaret to S. Louis of 
France, Eleanor to Henry III. of England, Sanctia to Richard 
Earl of Cornwall elected King of the Romans, Beatrice to 
Charles Count of Anjou, afterwards by Papal investiture 
King of Naples. The sequel is but too clear. 

The Saints vanished with singing; and Beatrice discern- 
ing in Dante's mind a perplexity arising from Justinian's 
words respecting that vengeance on Jerusalem whereof 
Titus was the minister, proceeded thus to instruct him : 

1 Vita Nuova xli. 

Of the Incarnation and the Cross. 225 

' According to infallible advisement, 

After what manner a just vengeance justly 

Could be avenged has put thee upon thinking, 
But I will speedily thy mind unloose ; 

And do thou listen, for these words of mine 

Of a great doctrine will a present make thee. 
By not enduring on the power that wills 

Curb for his good, that man who ne'er was born, 

Damning himself damned all his progeny ; 
Whereby the human species down below 

Lay sick for many centuries in great error, 

Till to descend it pleased the Word of God 
To where the nature, which from its own Maker 

Estranged itself, He joined to Him in person, 

By the sole act of His eternal love. 
Now unto what is said direct thy sight ; 

This nature when united to its Maker, 

Such as created, was sincere and good ; 
But by itself alone was banished forth 

From Paradise, because it turned aside 

Out of the way of truth and of its life. 
Therefore the penalty the cross held out, 

If measured by the nature thus assumed, 

None ever yet with so great justice stung, 
And none was ever of so great injustice, 

Considering Who the Person was that suffered, 

Within Whom such a nature was contracted. 
From one act therefore issued things diverse ; 

To God and to the Jews one Death was pleasing ; 

Earth trembled at it and the Heaven was opened. 
It should no longer now seem difficult 

To thee, when it is said that a just vengeance 

By a just court was afterward avenged. 
But now do I behold thy mind entangled 

226 Of Man before and after the Fall. 

From thought to thought within a knot, from which 

With great desire it waits to free itself. 
Thou sayest, "Well discern I what I hear ; 

But it is hidden from me why God willed 

For our redemption only this one mode." 
Buried remaineth, brother, this decree 

Unto the eyes of every one whose nature 

Is in the flame of love not yet adult. 
Verily, inasmuch as at this mark 

One gazes long and little is discerned, 

Wherefore this mode was worthiest will I say. 
Goodness Divine, which from Itself doth spurn 

All envy, burning in Itself so sparkles 

That the eternal beauties It unfolds. 1 
Whate'er from This immediately distils 

Has afterwards no end, for ne'er removed 

Is Its impression when It sets Its seal. 
Whate'er from This immediately rains down 

Is wholly free, because it is not subject 

Unto the influences of novel things. 
The more conformed thereto, the more it pleases ; 

For the blest Ardor that irradiates all things 

In that most like Itself is most vivacious. 
With all of these things has advantaged been 

The human creature ; and if one be wanting, 

From his nobility he needs must fall. 
*T is sin alone which doth disfranchise him, 

And render him unlike the Good Supreme, 2 

So that he little with Its light is blanched, 3 

1 The Divine Goodness, wholly free from aught that is contrary to 
charity, in the ardor of Its own Love so sparkles as to take pleasure in 
manifesting and communicating Its Eternal Beauty. 

2 See pp. 13, 14, ' All creatures,' etc. 
* Irradiated. 

Of God^s two ways in Redemption, 227 

And to his dignity no more returns, 

Unless he fill up where transgression empties 

With righteous pains for criminal delights. 
Your nature when it sinned so utterly 

In its own seed, out of these dignities 

Even as out of Paradise was driven, 
Nor could itself recover, if thou notest 

With nicest subtilty, by any way, 

Except by passing one of these two fords : 
Either that God through clemency alone 

Had pardon granted, or that man himself 

Had satisfaction for his folly made. 
Fix now thine eye deep into the abyss 

Of the eternal counsel, to my speech 

As far as may be fastened steadfastly ! 
Man in his limitations had not power 

To satisfy, not having power to sink 

In his humility obeying then, 
Far as he disobeying thought to rise ; 

And for this reason man has been from power 

Of satisfying by himself excluded. 
Therefore it God behooved in His own ways 1 

Man to restore unto his perfect life, 

I say in one, or else in both of them. 
But since the action of the doer is 

So much more grateful, as it more presents 

The goodness of the heart from which it issues, 
Goodness Divine, that doth imprint the world, 

Has been contented to proceed by each 

And all Its ways to lift you up again ; 
Nor 'twixt the. first day and the final night 

Such high and such magnificent proceeding 

By one or by the other was or shall be ; 

1 Mercy and Justice. 

228 The Blessed in Venus. Charles Martel 

For God more bounteous was Himself to give 
To make man able to uplift himself, 
Than if He only of Himself had pardoned; 

And all the other modes were insufficient 
For justice, were it not the Son of God 
Himself had humbled to become incarnate.' 

vii. 19-120. 

The ascent to Venus, insensible at the moment, was after 
taking place revealed by the increased beauty of Beatrice. 
Here within the star's light were seen circling other lights, 
their charity such that albeit they revolved with the Heavenly 
Principalities, yet, as one testified, Dante's desire to con- 
verse with them would render a pause no less blissful than 
unbroken revolution. 

After these eyes of mine themselves had offered 
Unto my Lady reverently, and she 
Content and certain of herself had made them, 

Back to the light they turned, which so great promise 
Made of itself, and, ' Say, who art thou ?' was 
My voice, imprinted with a great affection. 

O how and how much I beheld it grow 
With the new joy that superadded was 
Unto its joys, as soon as I had spoken ! 

Thus changed, it said to me : ' The world possessed me 
Short time below : and, if it had been more, 
Much evil will be which would not have been. 

My gladness keepeth me concealed from thee, 
Which rayeth round about me, and doth hide me 
Like as a creature swathed in its own silk. 

Much didst thou love me, and thou hadst good reason ; 
For had I been below, I should have shown thee 

Somewhat beyond the foliage of my love.' 

vni. 40-57. 

treats of Nativity and Degeneracy. 229 

This Saint was Charles Martel, the eldest son of Charles 
II. of Naples by his wife Mary of Hungary, and thus 
doubly born a King, though the paternal crown he did 
not live to inherit, dying at the age of twenty-three. This 
virtuous prince and early friend of Dante now bitterly 
lamented the fate of Naples under his money-loving brother 
Robert I., degenerate from their large-natured father. Yet 
when a son is not the speaker, Charles II. himself is 
throughout the poem unfavorably mentioned. In another 
passage of the Paradiso 1 largeness of nature is indeed 
probably alluded to as his one virtue ; but in the Purga- 
torio he is actually included in Hugh Capet's denunciation 
of the avarice of his house, 2 and is spoken of by Sordello 
as degenerate from his own father Charles I. 8 Such de- 
generacy, of which various instances were then under con- 
templation, was, as we saw, attributed by the speaker to 
its primary cause, the Will of Almighty God 4 that all the 
glory of human virtue should be ascribed to Himself. 
Dante now, desiring farther light on the subject, asked of 
Charles Martel how of sweet seed can come bitter, and 
heard the astrological doctrine of the secondary cause and 
its practical result : that the star under which nativity 
takes place counteracts and modifies by its influence the 
otherwise unvarying rule of the resemblance of child to 
parent ; and that in all glaring instances of contrast be- 
tween a man's self and his state of life, the blame should 
fall, not on Nature for not adapting him to his state, 
but on himself and his advisers for not adapting his state 
to him. 

1 Par. xix. 127-129. 2 Pur. xx. 79-81. 

8 Pur. vii. 124. 4 See pp. 136, 137. 

230 The Blessed in the Sun. 

Other Spirits of this Third Heaven then conversed with 
their guest ; and Rahab was pointed out to him as its most 
exalted inhabitant. 

But behold him now free of the region of imperfect 
Wills ; the transitional Heaven of the Sun lies before him, 
the peculiar kingdom of Wisdom and Knowledge. The 
Sun was in Aries, 

And I was with him ; but of the ascending 

I was not conscious, saving as a man 

Of a first thought is conscious ere it come ; 
And Beatrice, she who is seen to pass 

From good to better, and so suddenly 

That not by time her action is expressed, 
How lucent in herself must she have been ! 

And what was in the sun, wherein I entered, 

Apparent not by color but by light, 
I, though I call on genius, art, and practice, 

Cannot so tell that it could be imagined ; 

Believe one can, and let him long to see it. 
And if our fantasies too lowly are 

For altitude so great, it is no marvel, 

Since o'er the sun was never eye could go. 
Such in this place was the fourth family 

Of the high Father, Who for ever sates it, 

Showing how He breathes forth and how begets. 
And Beatrice began : ' Give thanks, give thanks 

Unto the Sun of Angels, Who to this 

Sensible one has raised thee by His grace ! ' 
Never was heart of mortal so disposed 

To worship, nor to give itself to God 

AVith all its gratitude was it so ready, 
As at those words did I myself become ; 

And all my love was so absorbed in Him, 

First Garland: S. Thomas Aquinas, Boethius. 2 3 1 

That in oblivion Beatrice was eclipsed. 

Nor this displeased her ; but she smiled at it 
So that the splendor of her laughing eyes 
My single mind on many things divided. 

Lights many saw I, vivid and triumphant, 
Make us a centre and themselves a circle, 
More sweet in voice than luminous in aspect. 

Thus girt about the daughter of Latona 

We sometimes see, when pregnant is the air, 

So that it holds the thread which makes her zone. 1 

Within the court of Heaven, whence I return, 
Are many jewels found, so fair and precious 
They cannot be transported from the realm ; 

And of them was the singing of those lights. 

Who takes not wings that he may fly up thither, 
The tidings thence may from the dumb await ! 

x. 34-75- 

.SLThomas Aquinas from out the garland made known 
himself and his companions, among whom were Albertus 
Magnus ; Gratian ; Peter Lombard ; Solomon ; S. Diony- 
sius the Areopagite, whose treatise De coelesti Hierarchia is 
the foundation of Dante's own theory respecting the An- 
gelic Orders ; Severinus Boethius ; and the Venerable Bede. 
On Boethius we may dwell a moment longer ; he had been 
a Roman Senator whom the Gothic King Theodoric in con- 
sequence of some suspicion imprisoned at Pavia, and who 
there wrote the treatise De consolatione Philosophise, Dante's 
comfort in the bitter mourning of his youth, 2 as doubtless 
also in the exile of his maturer age. This eighth radiance 
of the garland was thus specially commended to notice : 

1 The colors which form the halo. 

2 Convito ii. 13 (see page 22). 

232 Second Gar land: S.Bonaventura. Solomon. 

' Now if thou trainest thy mind's eye along 
From light to light pursuant of my praise, 
With thirst already of the eighth thou waitest. 

By seeing every good therein exults 

The sainted Soul, which the fallacious world 
Makes manifest to him who listeneth well ; 

The body whence 't was hunted forth is lying 
Down in Cieldauro, and from martyrdom 
And banishment it came unto this peace.' 

x. 121-129. 

All aglow with charity, the great Dominican Saint pro- 
ceeded to dilate first on the glories, not of his own Founder, 
but of the ' seraphic ' S. Francis of Assisi ; and then, while 
exalting S. Dominic, severely to condemn the corruptions 
which had crept into his Order. -But anon round the first 
saintly garland formed a second, among whose component 
roses were Hugh de S. Victor, the Prophet Nathan, S. 
Chrysostom, S. Anselm, and S. Bonaventura the Franciscan, 
who emulous of S. Thomas' humility and charity first 
narrated the acts of the ' cherubic ' S. Dominic : and alas ! 
found hardly less reason to conclude by censuring his own 
Order than by extolling its Founder S. Francis. 

Then S. Thomas spoke again. In naming one by one 
the Saints of the first garland he had said of Solomon, the 
Singer of the Canticles and the wisest of mankind, 

' The fifth light, that among us is the fairest, 

Breathes forth from such a love that all the world 
Below is greedy to learn tidings of it. 

Within it is the lofty mind, where knowledge 
So deep was put, that, if the true be true, 
To see so much there never rose a second : ' 

(x. 109-114.) 

' Judge nothing before the time" 233 

and this concluding assertion had wrought in his hearer's 
mind a perplexity which the Angelic Doctor removed by 
explaining that Regal Prudence is the one and only point 
of this King's unique eminence among the sons of men. 
And after an admonition against hasty sentence in matters 
of reasoning, he gave yet more solemn warning against self- 
intrusion into the Eternal Judgment-Seat : 

' Nor yet shall people be too confident 
In judging, even as he is who doth count 
The corn in field or ever it be ripe. 

For I have seen all winter long the thorn 
First show itself intractable and fierce, 
And after bear the rose upon its top ; 

And I have seen a ship direct and swift 

Run o'er the sea throughout its course entire, 
To perish at the harbor's mouth at last. 

Let not Dame Bertha nor Ser Martin think, 
Seeing one steal, another offering make. 
To see them in the arbitrament divine ; 

For one may rise, and fall the other may.* 

xni. 130-142. 

Beatrice next besought on Dante's behalf instruction 
respecting another truth. 

c This man has need (and does not tell you so, 

Nor with the voice, nor even in his thought) 

Of going to the root of one truth more. 
Declare unto him if the light wherewith 

Blossoms your substance shall remain with you 

Eternally the same that it is now ; 
And if it do remain, say in what manner, 

After ye are again made visible, 

It can be that it injure not your sight.' 

- 234 Of the Saints vesture of light. 

As by a greater gladness urged and drawn 
They who are dancing in a ring sometimes 
Uplift their voices and their motions quicken ; 

So, at that orison devout and prompt, 
The holy circles a new joy displayed 
In their revolving and their wondrous song. 

Whoso lamenteth him that here we die 
That we may live above, has never there 
Seen the refreshment of the eternal rain. 

The One and Two and Three who ever liveth, 
And reigneth ever in Three and Two and One, 
Not circumscribed and all things circumscribing, 

Three several times was chanted by each one 
Among those Spirits with such melody 
That for all merit it were just reward ; 

And, in the lustre most divine of all 

The-lesser ring, I heard a modest voice, 1 
Such as perhaps the Angel's was to Mary, 

Answer : * As long as the festivity 
Of Paradise shall be, so long our Love 
Shall radiate round about us such a vesture. 

Its brightness is proportioned to the ardor, 
The ardor to the vision ; and the vision 
Equals what grace it has above its worth. 2 

When, glorious and sanctified, our flesh 
Is reassumed, then shall our persons be 
More pleasing by their being all complete ; 

For will increase whate'er bestows on us 
Of light gratuitous the Good Supreme, 

1 Solomon's. 

2 So long as Paradise shall last, so long shall God our Love radiate 
this vesture of light around us. Its brightness is in proportion to the 
ardor of our charity, that ardor to our vision of God ; and that vision 
is in proportion to the grace bestowed upon the soul over and above 
its natural powers. 

Of the risen and glorified Body. 235 

Light which enables us to look on Him ; 

Therefore the vision must perforce increase, 
Increase the ardor which from that is kindled, 
Increase the radiance which from this proceeds. 

But even as a coal that sends forth flame, 
And by its vivid whiteness overpowers it 
So that its own appearance it maintains, 

Thus the effulgence that surrounds us now 
Shall be o'erpowered in aspect by the flesh, 1 
Which still to-day the earth doth cover up ; 

Nor can so great a splendor weary us, 
For strong will be the organs of the body 
To everything which hath the power to please us.' 

So sudden and alert appeared to me 
Both one and the other choir to say Amen, 
That well they showed desire for their dead bodies ; 

Nor sole for them perhaps, but for the mothers, 
The fathers, and the rest who had been dear 
Or ever they became eternal flames. 

And lo ! all round about of equal brightness 
Arose a lustre over what was there, 
Like an horizon that is clearing up. 

And as at rise of early eve begin 
Along the welkin new appearances, 
So that the sight seems real and unreal, 

It seemed to me that new subsistences 
Began there to be seen, and make a circle 
Outside the other two circumferences. 

O very sparkling of the Holy Spirit, 

How sudden and incandescent it became 
Unto mine eyes, that vanquished bore it not ! 

1 Even as a coal sending out a flame does yet by its own vivid bright- 
ness so overpower that flame as to be still distinguished as coal, so will 
the risen body of flesh be distinguishable notwithstanding the effulgence. 

236 The Blessed in Mars : the radiant Cross. 

But Beatrice so beautiful and smiling 

Appeared to me, that with the other sights 
That followed not my memory I must leave her. 

Then to uplift themselves mine eyes resumed 
The power, and I beheld myself translated 
To higher salvation with my Lady only. 

Well was I ware that I was more uplifted 
By the enkindled smiling of the star, 
That seemed to me more ruddy than its wont. 

With all my heart, and in that dialect 
Which is the same in all, such holocaust 
To God I made as the new grace beseemed ; 

And not yet from my bosom was exhausted 
The ardor of sacrifice, before I knew 
This offering was accepted and auspicious : 

For with so great a lustre and so red 

Splendors appeared to me in twofold rays, 
I said : * O Helios who dost so adorn them ! ' 

Even as distinct with less and greater lights 
Glimmers between the two poles of the world 
The Galaxy that maketh wise men doubt, 

Thus constellated in the depths of Mars, 
Those rays described the venerable sign 
That quadrants joining in a circle make. 

Here doth my memory overcome my genius : 
For on that cross as levin gleamed forth Christ, 
So that I cannot find ensample worthy ; 

But he who takes his cross and follows Christ 
Again will pardon me what I omit, 
Seeing in that aurora lighten Christ. 

From horn to horn, and 'twixt the top and base, 
Lights were in motion, brightly scintillating 
As they together met and passed each other. 

XIV. ID-Ill. 

D antes great-great-grandfather Cacciaguida. 237 

An ineffable melody of a hymn to the Conqueror of 
Death resounded all over the Cross; then the hush of 
charity fell upon it that the stranger might speak and hear. 
But lo an individual star from out that constellation saluted 
him kinsman, giving fervent thanks for the grace super- 
abounding towards him, and uttering afterwards things such 
as no mortal mind can comprehend. Then most loving 
and courteous words invited question; and question was 
made forthwith. 

* Truly do I entreat thee, living topaz ! 

Set in this precious jewel as a gem, 
That thou wilt satisfy me with thy name.' 

* O leaf of mine, in whom I pleasure took 

E'en while awaiting, I was thine own root ! ' 
Such a beginning he in answer made me. 

Then said to me : ' That one from whom is named 
Thy race, and who a hundred years and more 
Has circled round the mount on the first cornice, 

A son of mine and thy great-gran dsire was ; 
Well it behooves thee that the long fatigue 
Thou shouldst for him make shorter with thy works. 

Florence, within the ancient boundary 
From which she taketh still her tierce and nones, 1 
Abode in quiet, temperate and chaste. 

No golden chain she had, nor coronal, 

Nor ladies shod with sandal shoon, nor girdle 
That caught the eye more than the person did. 

Not yet the daughter at her birth struck fear 
Into the father, for the time and dower 

1 Some say the Hours were sung in the Abbey, others in the Palazzo 
Pubblico; both within the circuit of the ancient walls. (Fraticelli 
in loc.} 

238 Florence in Cacciaguidas time. 

Did not o'errun this side or that the measure. 
No houses had she void of families, 

Nor yet had thither come Sardanapalus 

To show what in a chamber can be done ; 
Not yet surpassed had Montemalo been 

By your Uccellatojo, which surpassed 1 

Shall in its downfall be as in its rise. 
Belli ncion Berti 2 saw I go begirt 

With leather and with bone, and from the mirror 

His dame depart without a painted face ; 
And him of Nerli saw, and him of Vecchio, 2 

Contented with their simple suits of buff, 

And with the spindle and the flax their dames. 
O fortunate women ! and each one was certain 

Of her own burial-place, and none as yet 

For sake of France was in her bed deserted. 
One o'er the cradle kept her studious watch, 

And in her lullaby the language used 

That first delights the fathers and the mothers ; 
Another, drawing tresses from her distaff, 

Told o'er among her family the tales 

Of Trojans and of Fesole and Rome. 
As great a marvel then would have been held 

A Lapo Salterello, a Cianghella, 8 

As Cincinnatus or Cornelia now. 
To such a quiet, such a beautiful 

Life of the citizen, to such a safe 

Community, and to so sweet an inn, 
Did Mary give me, with loud cries invoked, 

1 The Hill of Montemalo overlooks Rome, that of the Uccellatojo 
Florence, which latter city had now surpassed Rome in the splendor 
of its buildings. 

2 Florentine noble. 

* Persons notorious for vice. 

Cacciaguidas history. 239 

And in your ancient Baptistery at once 

Christian and Cacciaguida I became. 
Moronto was my brother, and Eliseo ; 

From Val di Pado came to me my wife, 1 

And from that place thy surname was derived. 
I followed afterward the Emperor Conrad, 2 

And he begirt me of his chivalry, 

So much I pleased him with my noble deeds. 
I followed in his train against that law's 

Iniquity, whose people doth usurp 

Your just possessions, through your Pastor's fault. 
There by that execrable race was I 

Released from bonds of the fallacious world, 

The love of which defileth many souls, 
Aud came from martyrdom unto this peace.' 

xv. 85-148. 

Long, long did ancestor and descendant continue to 
converse of Florence past and present : then the younger 
besought clear knowledge of that future darkly hinted to 
him in Hell and in Purgatory; and the elder, seeing all 
things reflected in the Eternal Mind as in a mirror, uttered 
what he saw. 

* As forth from Athens went Hippolytus, 
By reason of his step-dame false and cruel, 
So thou from Florence must perforce depart. 

Already this is willed, and this is sought for ; 
And soon it shall be done by him who thinks it, 
Where every day the Christ is bought and sold. 

1 From Ferrara in the Valley of the Pado or Po. She was of the 
Aldighieri or Allighieri family. 

2 Conrad III., the first Emperor of the House of Hohenstauffen, was 
one of the leaders of the Second Crusade. 

240 Cacciaguida predicts D antes exile : 

The blame shall follow the offended party 
In outcry as is usual ; but the vengeance 
Shall witness to the truth that doth dispense it. 1 

Thou shalt abandon everything beloved 
Most tenderly, and this the arrow is 
Which first the bow of banishment shoots forth. 

Thou shalt have proof how savoreth of salt 
The bread of others, and how hard a road 
The going down and up another's stairs. 

And that which most shall weigh upon thy shoulders 
Will be the bad and foolish company 
With which into this valley thou shalt fall ; 

For all ingrate, all mad and impious 
Will they become against thee ; but soon after 
They, and not thou, shall have the forehead scarlet. 

Of their bestiality their own proceedings 

Shall furnish proof; so 't will be well for thee 
A party to have made thee by thyself. 

Son, these are the commentaries 
On what was said to thee : behold the snares 
That are concealed behind few revolutions ; 

Yet would I not thy neighbors thou shouldst envy, 
Because thy life into the future reaches 
Beyond the punishment of their perfidies.' 

When by its silence showed that sainted soul 
That it had finished putting in the woof 
Into that web which I had given it warped, 

Began I, even as he who yearneth after, 
Being in doubt, some counsel from a person 
Who seeth, and uprightly wills, and loves : 

1 As usual in this world, thou who comest off worst wilt be con- 
sidered in the wrong; but the vengeance that shall overtake thy perse- 
cutors from Him Who is the Truth shall witness to the truth. 

urges him to boldness of speech. 241 

* Well see I, father mine, how spurreth on 
The time towards me such a blow to deal me 
As heaviest is to him who most gives way. 

Therefore with foresight it is well I arm me, 
That, if the dearest place be taken from me, 
I may not lose the others by my songs. 1 

Down through the world of infinite bitterness, 
And o'er the mountain, from whose beauteous summit 
The eyes of my own Lady lifted me, 

And afterward through Heaven from light to light, 
I have learned that which, if I tell again, 
Will be a savor of strong herbs to many. 

And if I am a timid friend to truth, 

I fear lest I may lose my life with those 
Who will hereafter call this time the olden.' 

The light in which was smiling my own treasure 
Which there I had discovered, flashed at first 
As in the sunshine doth a golden mirror ; 

Then made reply : ' A conscience overcast 
Or with its own or with another's shame, 
Will taste forsooth the tartness of thy word; 

But nevertheless, all falsehood laid aside, 
Make manifest thy vision utterly, 
And let them scratch wherever is the itch ; 

For if thine utterance shall offensive be 
At the first taste, a vital nutriment 
'T will leave thereafter, when it is digested. 

This cry of thine shall do as doth the wind, 
Which smiteth most the most exalted summits, 
And that is no slight argument of honor. 

Therefore are shown to thee within these wheels, 

1 That if I am exiled from my country, I may not for telling unwel- 
come truths be expelled from every place of refuge. 


242 The Warrior Saints. 

Upon the mount and in the dolorous valley, 
Only the Souls that unto fame are known ; 

Because the spirit of the hearer rests not, 
Nor doth confirm its faith by an example 
Which has the root of it unknown and hidden, 

Or other reason that is not apparent.' 

xvn. 46-69, 94-142. 

Comforted in his prospective sorrows by the love and 
bliss shining on him through the eyes of his Beloved, the 
future exile from among his fellow-citizens of Florence 
applied himself to learn from his progenitor some renowned 
names of his fellow- citizens of Paradise ; each name as it 
resounded being claimed by the owner's flashing in his 
place in one or other arm of the Cross. Joshua flashed, 
and Judas Maccabaeus ; Charlemagne and Roland ; the 
Crusaders Godfrey of Bouillon, William of Orange, and his 
kinsman Rinaldo ; finally, Robert Guiscard the Norman 
conqueror of Sicily from the Saracens. Cacciaguida re- 
turned to sing at his post within the Cross ; and there was 
a pause. 

To my right side I turned myself around, 

My duty to behold in Beatrice 

Either by words or gesture signified ; 
And so translucent I beheld her eyes, 

So full of pleasure, that her countenance 

Surpassed its other and its latest wont. 
And as, by feeling greater delectation, 

A man in doing good from day to day 

Becomes aware his virtue is increasing, 
So I became aware that my gyration 

With Heaven together had increased its arc, 

That miracle beholding more adorned. 

The Blessed in Jupiter. 243 

And such as is the change, in little lapse 
Of time, in a pale woman, when her face 
Is from the load of bashfulness unladen, 

Such was it in mine eyes, when I had turned, 
Caused by the whiteness of the temperate star, 
The sixth, which to itself had gathered me. 

xviii. 52-69. 

Here certain radiant Spirits so arranged themselves as 
successively to form each of the thirty-five letters of the 
sentence, ' Diligite justitiam, qui judicatis terram.' Then 
more Lights descended to enwreathe the final m, and at 
length, when all had developed into the form of the 
crowned Eagle of the Latin Empire, the Saints constituting 
the Beak began to sing of their own and their fellows' exal- 
tation hither on account of their Justice and Mercy. 

Whence I thereafter : * O perpetual flowers 

Of the eternal joy, that only one 

Make me perceive your odors manifold, 
Exhaling, break within me the great fast 

Which a long season has in hunger held me, 

Not finding for it any food on earth. 
Well do I know, that if in Heaven its mirror 

Justice Divine another realm doth make, 

Yours apprehends it not through any veil. 
You know how I attentively address me 

To listen ; and you know what is the doubt 

That is in me so very old a fast.' 
Even as a falcon, issuing from his hood, 

Doth move his head, and with his wings applaud him, 

Showing desire, and making himself fine, 
Saw I become that standard, which of lauds 

Was interwoven of the grace divine, 

244 The Divine Justice is inscrutable. 

With such songs as he knows who there rejoices. 
Then it began : He Who a compass turned 

On the world's outer verge, and Who within it 

Devised so much occult and manifest, 
Could not the impress of His power so make 

On all the universe, as that His Word 

Should not remain in infinite excess. 1 
And this makes certain that the first proud being, 8 

Who was the paragon of every creature, 

By not awaiting light fell immature. 
And hence appears it, that each minor nature 

Is scant receptacle unto that Good 

Which has no end, and by Itself is measured. 
In consequence our vision, which perforce 

Must be some ray of that Intelligence 

With Which all things whatever are replete, 
Cannot in its own nature be so potent. 

That it shall not its Origin discern 

Far beyond that which is apparent to it. 8 
Therefore into the justice sempiternal 

The power of vision that your world receives, 

As eye into the ocean penetrates ; 
Which, though it see the bottom near the shore, 

Upon the deep perceives it not, and yet 

'T is there, but it is hidden by the depth. 
There is no light but comes from the serene 

That never is o'ercast, nay, it is darkness 

Or shadow of the flesh, or else its poison. 4 

1 Should not infinitely exceed the intelligence of the highest creature. 

2 See page 15. 

3 Discern God its Origin infinitely to surpass its own perceptions. 

4 Nothing is light but that which comes from God's unclouded 
Brightness ; whatever else claims to be so is darkness, or a shadow 
cast by the flesh, or the poison of false judgment bred in the senses. 

Dante s question respecting the Heathen. 245 

Amply to thee is opened now the cavern 

Which has concealed from thee the living justice 
Of which thou mad'st such frequent questioning. 

For saidst thou: " Born a man is on the shore 
Of Indus, and is none who there can speak 
Of Christ, nor who can read, nor who can write ; 

And all his inclinations and his actions 
Are good, so far as human reason sees, 
Without a sin in life or in discourse : 

He dieth unbaptized and without faith ; 
Where is this justice that condemneth him ? 
Where is his fault, if he do not believe ? " 

Now who art thou, that on the bench wouldst sit 
In judgment at a thousand miles away, 
With the short vision of a single span ? 

Truly to him who with me subtilizes, 
If so the Scripture were not over you, 
For doubting there were marvellous occasion. 1 

O animals terrene, O stolid minds, 

The primal Will, that in Itself is good, 

Ne'er from Itself, the Good Supreme, has moved. 

So much is just as is accordant with It; 
No good created draws It to itself, 
But It, by raying forth, occasions that.' 

Even as above her nest goes circling round 
The stork when she has fed her little ones, 
And he who has been fed looks up at her, 

So lifted I my brows, and even such 

Became the blessed image, which its wings 
Was moving, by so many counsels urged. 

1 Truly to him who so subtilely argues with me there would be great 
occasion to doubt, were not the Scripture far above all human argu- 

246 Bad Christians far worse than the Heathen. 

Circling around it sang, and said : ' As are 

My notes to thee, who dost not comprehend them, 
Such is the eternal judgment to you mortals.' 

Those lucent splendors of the Holy Spirit 
Grew quiet then, but still within the standard 
That made the Romans reverend to the world. 

It recommenced: 'Unto this kingdom never 
Ascended one who had not faith in Christ, 
Before or since He to the tree was nailed. 

But look thou, many crying are, " Christ, Christ ! '' 
Who at the judgment shall be far less near 
To Him than some shall be who knew not Christ. 

Such Christians shall the Ethiop condemn, 
When the two companies shall be divided, 
The one forever rich, the other poor. 

What to your kings may not the Persians say, 
When they that volume opened shall behold 
In which are written down all their dispraises ? ' 

xix. 22-114. 

And then followed the special dispraises of the reigning 
Princes of Europe ; of the Emperor Albert I. for his invasion 
and occupation of Bohemia, of Philippe le Bel for his de- 
basement of the coin, of Edward I. and his Scottish rival for 
their pride and ambition, of Charles the Lame of Naples 
for the virtue 1 whereof I and the vices whereof M is the 
numeral, and of many others of less familiar names on 
various grounds. Songs of unspeakable sweetness filled up 
a pause; and soon the Beak spoke again, giving account 
of the six specially exalted Spirits forming the Eye. The 
Pupil was David. The first of the five of the Eyebrow was 
Trajan, in the Middle Ages popularly believed to have 

1 Par. viii. 82 (p. 229). 

Trajan ; Ripheus. The ascent to Saturn. 247 

been delivered from Hell and resuscitated on earth through 
S. Gregory the Great being moved to intercede for him for 
love of his eminent justice, and in that second brief earthly 
life to have embraced Christianity, received Baptism, and 
merited Paradise. The other four were Hezekiah ; Con- 
stantine the Great ; William the Good of Naples and Sicily ; 
and Ripheus the Trojan, supposed by Dante to have been 
first enabled by special grace to set all his aifections on 
justice, and so to have passed on to the further grace of 
foreseeing the future Redemption, reproving idolatry, and 
having for Baptism the three Theological Virtues. As here 
no popular or legendary belief seems adducible, we may, I 
think, assume this last case to be imagined as the Poet's 
own reply to his recently-cited question respecting Eternal 
Justice towards a perfectly virtuous heathen ; l a reply 
amounting to this that no heathen could be perfectly vir- 
tuous save by a miracle of grace ; and that supposing this 
first miracle performed, a second might much rather be 
expected to infuse a faith that cometh not by hearing, than 
faith itself be dispensed with as the condition of salvation. 
The imagination of such a case is in fact an expansion of 
the Eagle's words before cited, 

' No good created draws It to itself, 
But It, by raying forth, occasions that.' 

xix. 89, 90.2 

The ascent to Saturn was not merely insensible, but un- 
marked even by the smile of Beatrice, whose glory would at 
this point have been unendurable by mortal man. Here 
Jacob's Ladder, the golden-hued symbol of Divine Con- 

1 Par. xix. 70-78 (p. 245). 2 See the same page. 

248 The Blessed in Saturn. .S. Peter Damian 

temptation, stretched up into heights untraceable ; and 
Saints as countless stars shimmered up and down upon it, but 
sang not as one of them explained to Dante for the same 
reason that Beatrice did not smile. The explainer was S. 
Peter Damian, a Benedictine monk made by Pope Stephen 
IX. Cardinal and Bishop of Ostta. His farther statement 
that not greater love to the Pilgrim guest than his com- 
panions nourished, but Divine Election was the cause of his 
being the one to present himself to hear and to reply, 
moved Dante to inquire the ground of such election. 

No sooner had I come to the last word, 
Than of its middle made the light a centre, 
Whirling itself about like a swift millstone. 

Then answer made the love that was therein : 
* On me directed is a light divine, 
Piercing through this in which I am embosomed, 

Of which the virtue with my sight conjoined 
Lifts me above myself so far, I see 
The Supreme Essence from which this is drawn. 

Hence comes the joyfulness with which I flame, 
For to my sight, as far as it is clear, 
The clearness of the flame I equal make. 

But that Soul in the Heaven which is most pure, 
That Seraph which his eye on God most fixes, 
Could this demand of thine not satisfy ; 

Because so deeply sinks in the abyss 
Of the eternal statute what thou askest. 
From all created sight it is cut off. 

And to the mortal world, when thou returnest, 
This carry back, that it may not presume 
Longer tow'rd such a goal to move its feet. 

The mind that shineth here, on earth doth smoke : 

discourses of Election. 6\ Belw& l ^249 

From this observe how can it do below 
That which it cannot though the Heaven assume it?' 

xxi. 79-102. 

The Saint refused not however to name himself when 
requested ; after which he severely animadverted on the 
worldliness of the churchmen of the day, and a thunder-cry 
to the Divine Justice went up from the radiant multitude. 
Beatrice having calmed her disciple's consequent fear, 
directed his attention 'to that multitude. Its largest and 
brightest pearl, S. Benedict, then declared himself, and 
pointed out S. Macarius and S. Romuald. 

And I to him : ' The affection which thou showest 
Speaking with me, and the good countenance 
Which I behold and note in all your ardors, 
In me have so my confidence dilated 
As the sun doth the rose, when it becomes 
As far unfolded as it hath the power. 
Therefore I pray, and thou assure me, father, 
If I may so much grace receive, that I 
May thee behold with countenance unveiled.' 
He thereupon : * Brother, thy high desire 
In the remotest sphere shall be fulfilled, 
Where are fulfilled all others and my own. 
There perfect is, and ripened, and complete, 
Every desire ; within that one alone 
Is every part where it has always been ; l 
For it is not in space, nor turns on poles, 
And unto it our stairway reaches up, 
Whence thus from out thy sight 'it steals away. 
Up to that height the Patriarch Jacob saw it 
Extending its supernal part, what time 
So thronged with angels it appeared to him.' 

xxil. 52-72. 

1 The Empyrean is motionless. 

250 The ascent into the Starry Heaven, 

He ended with rebuke the relaxation of the Monastic 
Orders supplying the text 

. . . and then withdrew 

To his own band, and the band closed together; 
Then like a whirlwind all was upward rapt. 

The gentle Lady urged me on behind them 
Up o'er that stairway by a single sign, 
So did her virtue overcome my nature ; 

Nor here below, where one goes up and down 
By natural law, was motion e'er so swift 
That it could be compared unto my wing. 

Reader, as I may unto that devout 
Triumph return, on whose account I often 
For my transgressions weep and beat my breast, 

Thou hadst not thrust thy finger in the fire 
And drawn it out again, before I saw 
The sign that follows Taurus, and was in it. 

xxn. 97-1 1 1. 

This is the Sign of Gemini, under which Dante, as he 
proceeds to relate, was born; he was now in the Heaven 
of the Fixed Stars, contemplating them one by one, and 
looking down on Earth through all the Planetary Heavens. 

O glorious stars, O light impregnated 

With mighty virtue, from which I acknowledge 

All of my genius, whatsoe'er it be, 
With you was born, and hid himself with you, 

He who is father of all mortal life, 

When first I tasted of the Tuscan air ; 
And then when grace was freely given to me 

To enter the high wheel which turns you round, 

Your region was allotted unto me. 
To you devoutly at this hour my soul 

Is sighing, that it virtue may acquire 

whence Dante looks down upon Earth. 251 

For the stern pass that draws it to itself. 1 

' Thou art so near unto the last salvation,' 2 
Thus Beatrice began, ' thou oughtest now 
To have thine eyes unclouded and acute ; 

And therefore, ere thou enter farther in, 
Look down once more, and see how vast a world 
Thou hast already put beneath thy feet ; 

So that thy heart, as jocund as it may, 
Present itself to the triumphant throng 
That comes rejoicing through this rounded ether.' 

I with my sight returned through one and all 
The sevenfold spheres, and I beheld this globe 
Such that I smiled at its ignoble semblance ; 

And that opinion I approve as best 

Which doth account it least ; and he who thinks 
Of something else may truly be called just. 

I saw the daughter of Latona shining 
Without that shadow which to me was cause 
That once I had believed her rare and dense, 8 

The aspect of thy son, Hyperion, 

Here I sustained, and saw how move themselves 
Around and near him Maia and Dione. 

Thence there appeared the temperateness of Jove 
'Twixt son and father, and to me was clear 
The change that of their whereabout they make ; 

And all the seven made manifest to me 
How great they are, and eke how swift they are, 
And how they are in distant habitations. 

The threshing-floor that maketh us so proud, 
To me revolving with the eternal Twins, 

1 The extreme difficulty of writing of the Supreme Mysteries beheld 
in the Empyrean. 

2 The highest beatitude. 

3 The theory abandoned by Dante (see p. 212). 

252 The triumph of Christ descends. The Sun 

Was all apparent made from hill to harbor ! 
Then to the beauteous eyes mine eyes I turned. 

xxii. 112-154. 

But there were yet greater things than these to be seen : 
the Triumph of Christ was about to descend. 

Even as a bird, 'mid the beloved leaves, 
Quiet upon the nest of her sweet brood 
Throughout the night, that hideth all things from us, 

Who, that she may behold their longed-for looks 
And find the food wherewith to nourish them, 
In which, to her, grave labors grateful are, 

Anticipates the time on open spray 

And with an ardent longing waits the sun, 
Gazing intent as soon as breaks the dawn : 

Even thus my Lady standing was, erect 
And vigilant, turned round towards the zone 1 
Underneath which the sun displays less haste ; 

So that beholding her distraught and wistful, 
Such I became as he is who desiring 
For something yearns, and hoping is appeased. 

But brief the space from one When to the other ; 
Of my awaiting, say I, and the seeing 
The welkin grow resplendent more and more. 

And Beatrice exclaimed : * Behold the hosts 
Of Christ's triumphal march, and all the fruit 
Harvested by the rolling of these spheres ! ' ' 

It seemed to me her face was all aflame ; 
And eyes she had so full of ecstasy 
That I must needs pass on without describing. 

As when in nights serene of the full moon 
Smiles Trivia among the nymphs eternal 
Who paint the firmament through all its gulfs, 

1 The South. 

of Righteousness strengthens D antes sight. 253 

Saw I, above the myriads of lamps, 
A Sun 1 that one and all of them enkindled, 
E'en as our own doth the supernal sights, 2 

And through the living Light transparent shone 
The lucent Substance so intensely clear 
Into my sight, that I sustained it not. 

Beatrice, thou gentle guide and dear ! 

To me she said : * What overmasters thee 
A virtue is from which naught shields itself. 

There are the Wisdom and Omnipotence 

That oped the thoroughfares 'twixt Heaven and earth, 
For which there erst had been so long a yearning. 7 

As fire from out a cloud unlocks itself, 
Dilating so it finds not room therein, 
And down, against its nature, falls to earth, 

So did my mind, among those aliments 
Becoming larger, issue from itself, 
And that which it became cannot remember. 

' Open thine eyes, and look at what I am : 
Thou hast beheld such things, that strong enough 
Hast thou become to tolerate my smile.' 

1 was as one who still retains the feeling 
Of a forgotten vision, and endeavors 
In vain to bring it back into his mind, 

When I this invitation heard, deserving 

Of so much gratitude, it never fades 

Out of the book that chronicles the past. 
If at this moment sounded all the tongues 

That Polyhymnia and her sisters made 

Most lubrical with their delicious milk, 
To aid me, to a thousandth of the truth 

It would not reach, singing the holy smile 

And how the holy aspect it illumined. 

1 Our Blessed Lord. 2 Th e stars. 

254 The Flowers of the everlasting Garden. 

And therefore, representing Paradise, 
The sacred poem must perforce leap over, 
Even as a man who finds his way cut oft ; 

But whoso thinketh of the ponderous theme, 
And of the mortal shoulder laden with it, 
Should blame it not, if under this it tremble. 

It is no passage for a little boat 
This which goes cleaving the audacious prow, 
Nor for a pilot who would spare himself. 

'Why doth my face so much enamour thee, 
That to the garden fair thou turnest not, 
Which under the rays of Christ is blossoming ? 

There is the Rose in which the Word Divine 
Became incarnate ; there the lilies are 
By whose perfume the good way was discovered. 1 

xxiii. 1-75. 

Dante beheld the Mystical Rose, the Virgin Mother of 
God, crowned by the Archangel Gabriel in the form of a 
wreath of light and melody, follow her Adorable Son into 
the Empyrean. But the mystical Lilies, the Apostles, and 
the rest of the Blessed remaining behind, were entreated of 
Beatrice to bedew her Charge with the waters of that Living 
Fountain whereof they drink unceasingly. Their consent 
was betokened in their flaming velocity of revolution ; then 
from the most beauteous circle stood forth in intensest glow 
S. Peter : 

And she : ' O light eterne of the great man 
To whom our Lord delivered up the keys 
He carried down of this miraculous joy, 

This one examine on points light and grave, 
As good beseemeth thee, about the Faith 

S. Peter examines Dante : l What is Faith ?' 255 

By means of which thou on the sea didst walk. 

If he love well, and hope well, and believe, 

From thee 't is hid not ; for thou hast thy sight 
There where depicted everything is seen. 

But since this kingdom has made citizens 
By means of the true Faith, to glorify it 
'T is well he have the chance to speak thereof.' 

As baccalaureate arms himself, and speaks not 
Until the master doth propose the question, 
To argue it, and not to terminate it, 

So did I arm myself with every reason, 
While she was speaking, that I might be ready 
For such a questioner and such profession. 

* Say, thou good Christian ; manifest thyself ; 

What is the Faith ? ' Whereat I raised my brow 
Unto that light wherefrom was this breathed forth. 
Then turned I round to Beatrice, and she 

Prompt signals made to me that I should pour 
The water forth from my internal fountain. 

* May grace, that suffers me to make confession/ 

Began I, * to the great centurion, 

Cause my conceptions all to be explicit!' 
And I continued : * As the truthful pen, 

Father, of thy dear brother wrote of it, 

Who put with thee Rome into the good way, 
Faith is the substance of the things we hope for, 

And evidence of those that are not seen ; 

And this appears to me its quiddity.' 
Then heard I : * Very rightly thou perceivest, 

If well thou understandest why he placed it 

With substances and then with evidences.' 
And I thereafterward : ' The things profound, 

That here vouchsafe to me their apparition, 

Unto all eyes below are so concealed, 

256 'Hast thou Faith? whence? what proofs? 

That they exist there only in belief, 

Upon the which is founded the high hope, 
And hence it takes the nature of a substance. 

And it behooveth us from this belief 
To reason without having other sight, 
And hence it has the nature of evidence.' 

Then heard I : 'If whatever is acquired 
Below by doctrine were thus understood, 
No sophist's subtlety would there find place/ 

Thus was breathed forth from that enkindled love ; 
Then added : ' Very well has been gone over 
Already of this coin the alloy and weight ; 

But tell me if thou hast it in thy purse ? ' 
And I : ' Yes, both so shining and so round, 
That in its stamp there is no peradventure.' 

Thereafter issued from the light profound 
That there resplendent was : ' This precious jewel, 
Upon the which is every virtue founded, 

Whence hadst thou it ? ' And I : ' The large outpouring 
Of Holy Spirit, which has been diffused 
Upon the ancient parchments and the new, 

A syllogism is, which proved it to me 

With such acuteness, that, compared therewith, 
All demonstration seems to me obtuse.' 

And then I heard : ' The ancient and the new 
Postulates, that to thee are so conclusive, 
Why dost thou take them for the word divine ? ' 

And I : ' The proofs, which show the truth to me, 
Are the works subsequent, whereunto Nature 
Ne'er heated iron yet, nor anvil beat. 7 

'T was answered me : * Say, who assureth thee 
That those works ever were ? the thing itself 
That must be proved, naught else to thee affirms it.' 

* Were the world to Christianity converted,' 

what believest thou ? by what means ?' 257 

I said, ' withouten miracles, this one 

Is such, the rest are not its hundredth part ; 

Because that poor and fasting thou didst enter 
Into the field to sow there the good plant, 
Which was a vine and has become a thorn ! ' 

This being finished, the high, holy Court 

Resounded through the spheres, ' One God we praise ! ' 
In melody that there above is chanted. 

And then that Baron, who from branch to branch, 
Examining, had thus conducted me, 
Till the extremest leaves we were approaching, 

Again began : ' The grace that dallying 

Plays with thine intellect thy mouth has opened 
Up to this point, as it should opened be, 

So that I do approve what forth emerged ; 
But now thou must express what thou believest, 
And whence to thy belief it was presented.' 

* O holy father, Spirit who beholdest 

What thou believest so that thou o'ercamest, 
Towards the sepulchre, more youthful feet,' 

Began I, ' thou dost wish me in this place 
The form to manifest of my prompt belief, 
And likewise thou the cause thereof demandest. 

And I respond : In one God I believe, 

Sole and eterne, Who moveth all the Heavens 
With love and with desire, Himself unmoved ; 

And of such faith not only have I proofs 
Physical and metaphysical, but gives them 
Likewise the truth that from this place rains down 

Through Moses, through the Prophets and the Psalms, 
Through the Evangel, and through you, who wrote 
After the fiery Spirit sanctified you ; 

In Persons three eterne believe, and these 
One essence I believe, so one and trine 


258 S. Peter blesses Dante. S. James asks : 

They bear conjunction both with sunt and est. 1 
With the profound condition and divine 

Which now I touch upon, doth stamp my mind 

Ofttimes the doctrine evangelical. 
This the beginning is, this is the spark 

Which afterwards dilates to vivid flame, 

And, like a star in heaven, is sparkling in me.' 
Even as a lord who hears what pleaseth him 

His servant straight embraces, gratulating 

For the good news as soon as he is silent ; 
So, giving me its benediction, singing, 

Three times encircled me, when I was silent, 

The apostolic light, at whose command 
I spoken had, in speaking I so pleased him. 

xxiv. 34-154- 

Alas that the craving next expressed was never satis- 
fied ! 

If e'er it happen that the Poem Sacred, 
To which both Heaven and Earth have set their hand, 
So that it many a year hath made me lean, 

O'ercome the cruelty that bars me out 
From the fair sheepfold, where a lamb I slumbered, 
An enemy to the wolves that war upon it, 

With other voice forthwith, with other fleece 
Poet will I return, and at my font 
Baptismal will I take the laurel crown ; 

Because into the Faith that maketh known 
All souls to God there entered I, and then 
Peter for her sake thus my brow encircled. 

xxv. 1-12. 

S. James the Great then issued from the Apostolic Choir. 
1 Are and is. 

1 What is Hope ? hast thou Hope ? whence /" 259 

Dante evidently attributes to him not, like modern com- 
mentators, to S. James the Less the General Epistle which 
specially inspires Hope by its boundless promises to prayer : 
' If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giv- 
eth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not ; and it shall be 
given him.' ' Every good gift and every perfect gift is from 
above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with 
Whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning/ * 

Smiling thereafterwards, said Beatrice : 
4 Illustrious life, by whom the benefactions 
Of our Basilica have been described, 

Make Hope resound within this altitude ; 
Thou knowest as oft thou dost personify it 
As Jesus to the three gave greater clearness.' 

* Lift up thy head, and make thyself assured ; 
For what comes hither from the mortal world 
Must needs be ripened in our radiance.' 

This comfort came to me from the second fire ; 
Wherefore mine eyes I lifted to the hills, 
Which bent them down before with too great weight. 

' Since through His grace our Emperor wills that thou 
Shouldst find thee face to face, before thy death, 
In the most secret chamber, with His Counts, 

So that, the truth beholden of this court, 2 

Hope, which below there rightfully enamours, 
Thereby thou strengthen in thyself and others, 

Say what it is, and how is flowering with it 

Thy mind, and say from whence it came to thee.' 
Thus did the second light again continue. 

xxv. 28-48. 

1 S. James i. 5, 17. 

2 Having actually beheld the very truth of this Court of Heaven. 

260 Dante has Hope : what it is : whence. 

But the second question was one Dante could hardly 
answer without vainglory : 

And the Compassionate, who piloted 

The plumage of my wings in such high flight, 

Did in reply anticipate me thus : 
* No child whatever the Church Militant 

Of greater hope possesses, as is written 

In that Sun which irradiates all our band ; 
Therefore it is conceded him from Egypt 

To come into Jerusalem to see, 

Or ever yet his warfare be completed. 
The two remaining points, that not for knowledge 

Have been demanded, but that he report 

How much this virtue unto thee is pleasing, 
To him I leave ; for hard he will not find them, 

Nor of self-praise ; and let him answer them ; 

And may the grace of God in this assist him ! ' 
As a disciple, who his teacher follows, 

Ready and willing, where he is expert, 

That his proficiency may be displayed, 
'Hope,' said I, 'is the certain expectation 

Of future glory, which is the effect 

Of grace divine and merit precedent.' l 
From many stars this light comes unto me ; 

But he instilled it first into my heart 

Who was chief singer unto the chief Captain. 
Sperent in Te? 2 in the high Theody 

He sayeth, * those who know Thy Name ; and who 

Knoweth it not, if he my faith possess ? 
Thou didst instil me, then, with his instilling 

1 This definition of Hope is from Peter Lombard the Master of Sen- 
tences, whom we saw in the First Garland of holy Doctors (p. 231). 

2 Let them hope in Thee. Ps. ix. u, Vulgate; ix. 10, E.P.V. 

' What doth Hope promise thee ?' 261 

In the Epistle, so that I am full, 

And upon others rain again your rain.' 
While I was speaking, in the living bosom 

Of that combustion quivered an effulgence, 

Sudden and frequent, in the guise of lightning ; 
Then breathed : The love wherewith I am inflamed 

Towards the virtue still which followed me 

Unto the palm and issue of the field, 
Wills that I breathe to thee that thou delight 

In her ; and grateful to me is thy telling 

Whatever things Hope promises to thee.' 
And I : ' The ancient Scriptures and the new 

The mark establish, and this shows it me, 

Of all the souls whom God hath made His friends. 1 
Isaiah saith, that each one garmented 

In his own land shall be with twofold garments, 

And his own land is this delightful life. 
Thy brother, too, far more explicitly, 

There where he treateth of the robes of white, 

This revelation manifests to us.' 
And first, and near the ending of these words, 

* Sperent in Te ' from over us was heard, 

To which responsive answered all the carols. 

xxv. 49-99. 

Isaiah's words referred to above are these : ' Therefore in 
their land they shall possess the double ; everlasting joy 
shall be unto them : ' 2 and ' the double ' is interpreted of 
the soul's beatitude and the body's glorification. 

S. John now came and stood with his two brethren : and 
Dante, eager to ascertain by his possessing or not a body of 

1 Both Testaments fix the mark to be aimed at by all the friends of 
God ; and this Heaven in which I stand actually places that mark 
before my eyes. 2 Isaiah Ixi. 7. 

262 vS. John asks : ' Whom loves t thou? by what 

flesh the truth or falsehood of the belief ' that that disciple 
should not die,' gazed at him so fixedly that soon the blind- 
ness of dazzling ensued. S. John assured him that none, 
save only the Lord and His Mother, wears as yet in Heaven 
the twofold garment ; and while blindness still prolonged 
inability to discern even Beatrice, consoled him with the 
promise of restoration by her power, and examined him 
concerning Love, asking first whereon his soul stayed itself. 
The answer came : 

' The Good, that gives contentment to this Court, 
The Alpha and Omega is of all 
The writing that love reads me low or loud.' 

The selfsame voice, that taken had from me 
The terror of the sudden dazzlement, 
To speak still farther put it in my thought ; 

And said : ' In verity with finer sieve 

Behooveth thee to sift ; thee it behooveth 
To say who aimed thy bow at such a target.' 

And I : ' By philosophic arguments, 
And by authority that hence descends, 
Such love must needs imprint itself in me ; 

For Good, so far as good, when comprehended 
Doth straight enkindle love, and so much greater 
As more of goodness in itself it holds ; 

Then to that Essence (Whose is such advantage 
That every good which out of It is found 
Is nothing but a ray of Its own light) 

Moue than elsewhithermiust the mind be moved 
Of every one, in loving, who discerns 
The truth in which this evidence is founded. 

Such truth he * to my intellect reveals 

1 Probably Aristotle. 

means ? wherefore ? what else in Him /" 263 

Who demonstrates to me the Primal Love 
Of all the sempiternal substances. 

The voice reveals it of the truthful Author, 
Who says to Moses, speaking of Himself, 
" I will make all My goodness pass before thee.'' 

Thou too revealest it to me, beginning 
The loud Evangel, that proclaims the secret 
Of Heaven to Earth above all other edict.' 

And I heard say : * By human intellect 
And by authority concordant with it, 
Of all thy loves reserve for God the highest. 

But say again if other cords thou feelest 

Draw thee towards Him, that thou mayst proclaim 
With how many teeth this love is biting thee.' 

The holy purpose of the Eagle of Christ 
Not latent was, nay, rather I perceived 
Whither he fain would my profession lead. 

Therefore I recommenced : * All of those bites 
Which have the power to turn the heart to God 
Unto my charity have been concurrent. 

The being of the world, and my own being, 
The death which He endured that I may live, 
And that which all the faithful hope, as I do, 

With the forementioned vivid consciousness 
Have drawn me from the sea of love perverse, 
And of the right have placed me on the shore. 

The leaves, wherewith embowered is all the garden 
Of the Eternal Gardener, do I love 
As much as He has granted them of good.' 

As soon as I had ceased, a song most sweet 

Throughout the Heaven resounded, and my Lady 
Said with the others, ' Holy, holy, holy ! ' 

xxvi. 16-69. 

264 Adam sets forth 

Then Beatrice by her healing gaze restored, nay strength- 
ened the sight of her Beloved; and amazed he asked 
respecting a fourth resplendent Spirit standing with the 

And said my Lady : * There within those rays 
Gazes upon its Maker the first Soul 
That ever the first Virtue did create.' 

Even as the bough that downward bends its top 
At transit of the wind, and then is lifted 
By its own virtue, which inclines it upward, 

Likewise did I, the while that she was speaking, 
Being amazed, and then I was made bold 
By a desire to speak wherewith I burned. 

And I began : ' O apple, that mature 

Alone hast been produced, O ancient father, 

To whom each wife is daughter and daughter-in-law, 

Devoutly as I can I supplicate thee 
That thou wouldst speak to me ; thou seest my wish, 
And I, to hear thee quickly, speak it not.' 

Sometimes an animal, when covered, struggles 
So that his impulse needs must be apparent, 
By reason of the wrappage following it ; 

And in like manner the primeval soul 
Made clear to me athwart its covering 
How jubilant it was to give me pleasure. 

Then breathed : ' Without thy uttering it to me, 
Thine inclination better I discern 
Than thou whatever thing is surest to thee ; 

For I behold it in the truthful Mirror, 

That of Himself all things parhelion makes, 1 
And none makes Him parhelion of itself. 

1 ' Parhelion is an imperfect image of the sun, formed by reflection 
in the clouds. All things are such faint reflections of the Creator ; 
but He is the reflection of none of them.' 

four points concerning himself. 265 

Thou fain wouldst hear how long ago God placed me 
Within the lofty garden, where this Lady 
Unto so long a stairway thee disposed. 

And how long to mine eyes it was a pleasure, 
And of the great disdain the proper cause, 1 
And the language that I used and that I made. 

Now, son of mine, the tasting of the tree 
Not in itself was cause of so great exile, 
But solely the o'erstepping of the bounds. 

There, whence thy Lady moved Virgilius, 

Four thousand and three hundred and two circuits 
Made by the sun, this Council I desired ; 

And him I saw return to all the lights 

Of his highway nine hundred times and thirty, 
Whilst I upon the earth was tarrying. 

The language that I spake was quite extinct 
Before that in the work interminable 
The people under Nimrod were employed ; 

For nevermore result of reasoning 
(Because of human pleasure that doth change, 
Obedient to the Heavens) was durable. 

A natural action is it that man speaks ; 

But whether thus or thus, doth nature leave 
To your own art, as seemeth best to you. 

Ere I descended to the infernal anguish, 
El was on earth the name of the Chief Good, 
From Whom comes all the joy that wraps me round ; 

Eli He then was called, and that is proper, 
Because the use of men is like a leaf 
On bough, which goeth and another cometh. 

Upon the mount that highest o'er the wave 
Rises was I, in life or pure or sinful, 

1 The precise cause why the eating of the fruit brought on Man the 
exceeding Wrath of God. 

266 The ascent to the Primum Mobile. 

From the first hour to that which is the second, 
As the sun changes quadrant, to the sixth.' J 

xxvi. 82-142. 

But lo a change in the face of Heaven. S. Peter's white 
effulgence, and sympathetically that of all the Blessed, 
flushed indignant red as he descanted on the earthliness, 
worldliness, and violence, too often tainting his Holy See. 
And after charging him who was to return among men not 
to hide what he himself had not hidden, with the whole 
light-storm of triumphant Saints he swept up into the 
Empyrean. When they could be seen no more, Beatrice 
invited one last look towards Earth; and Dante having 
beheld it all reduced to pettiness, returned to gaze on the 
countenance where all was greatness. Gazing he was again 
uplifted, and they stood together in the Primum Mobile : 

1 And in this Heaven there is no other Where 
Than in the Mind Divine, Wherein is kindled 
The love that turns it, and the power it rains. 

Within a circle light and love embrace it, 

Even as this doth the others, and that precinct 

He who encircles it alone controls.' 

xxvn. 109-114. 

And Beatrice lamented the sore corruptions which leave 
human innocence and faith the portion of babes alone : and 
Dante turned even from her eyes to contemplate the 
peculiar vision of the Ninth Heaven, the circling of the 
Angelic Hierarchy round the Divine Centre. 

A Point beheld I that was raying out 

Light so acute, the sight which It enkindles 
Must close perforce before such great acuteness. 

1 See page 15. 

The Nine Angelic Circles. 267 

And whatsoever star seems smallest here 
Would seem to be a moon if placed beside It 
As one star with another star is placed. 

Perhaps at such a distance as appears 
A halo cincturing the light that paints it, 
When densest is the vapor that sustains it, 

Thus distant round the Point a circle of fire 
So swiftly whirled, that it would have surpassed 
Whatever motion soonest girds the world ; 

And this was by another circumcinct, 
That by a third, the third then by a fourth, 
By a fifth the fourth, and then by a sixth the fifth ; 

The seventh followed thereupon in width 
So ample now, that Juno's messenger 
Entire would be too narrow to contain it. 

Even so the eighth and ninth ; and every one 
More slowly moved, according as it was 
In number distant farther from the first. 

And that one had its flame most crystalline 

From which less distant was the stainless Spark, 
I think because more with Its truth imbued. 

My Lady, who in my anxiety 

Beheld me much perplexed, said : ' From that Point 
Dependent is the Heaven and nature all. 

Behold that circle most conjoined to It, 
And know thou, that its motion is so swift 
Through burning love whereby it is spurred on.' 

xxvin. 16-45. 

Dante inquired why the order of these Angelic Circles is 
inverse to that of the Heavens, and was answered by his 
Lady that such inversion is only in respect of extension ; in 
respect of virtue and influential action there is direct cor- 
respondence. 1 

1 See also page 13. 

268 Where, when, how the Angels were created. 

And soon as to a stop her words had come, 
Not otherwise does iron scintillate 
When molten, than those circles scintillated. 

Their coruscation all the sparks repeated, 
And they so many were, their number makes 
More millions than the doubling of the chess. 

I heard them sing hosanna choir by choir 
To the fixed Point which holds them at the Ubi* 
And ever will, where they have ever been. 

xxvin. 88-96. 

A farther discourse, after teaching the names of the Nine 
Angelic Choirs, and their division into three Triads, 2 
assigned the true knowledge of their hierarchic order rather 
to S. Dionysius the Areopagite, the disciple of that Master 
who had actually been caught up to the Third Heaven^ 
than to S. Gregory the Great in the points where the two 
are discrepant. And after a pause Beatrice satisfied Dante's 
thirst for the knowledge of the where, the when, and the 
how of the creation of the Angels. 

* Not to acquire some good unto Himself, 
Which is impossible, but that His splendor 8 
In its resplendency may say, " Subsisto" 

In His eternity outside of time, 

Outside all other limits, as it pleased Him, 
Into new Loves the Eternal Love unfolded. 

Nor as if torpid did He lie before ; 

For neither after nor before proceeded 
The going forth of God upon these waters.' 

xxix. 13-21. 

1 'Their appointed place or whereabout.' 

8 See page 12. 

8 The Creation, which is the ' splendor ' or reflected light of God. 

Of the rebel and the obedient Angels. 269 

The points next set forth were the relations between 
active Form or Mind and passive Matter, 1 and the simul- 
taneous creation of the Angels and the Heavens. 2 Beatrice 
then digressing by the way to refute an opinion of the 
Schools and animadvert on the profitless speculations of 
Preachers passed on to treat of the rebel Angels ; of 
their Fall, its effect on the Elemental World, its cause : 
and of the obedient Angels ; of their occupation, their in- 
defectibility, their number, their love proportioned to their 
mode of perception of the Beatific Vision. 

* Nor could one reach, in counting, unto twenty 
So swiftly, as a portion of these angels 
Disturbed the subject of your elements. 8 

The rest remained, and they began this art 
Which thou discernest, with so great delight 
That never from their circling do they cease. 

The occasion of the fall was the accursed 

Presumption of that One, whom thou hast seen 
By all the burden of the world constrained. 

Those whom thou here beholdest modest were 
To recognize themselves as of that Goodness 
Which made them apt for so much understanding ; 

On which account their vision was exalted 

By the enlightening grace and their own merit, 
So that they have a full and steadfast will. 

I would not have thee doubt, but certain be, 
'T is meritorious to receive this grace, 4 
According as the affection opens to it. 

1 See page 13. 2 See page 14. 

8 ' The subject of the elements is the earth, so called as being the 
lowest, or underlying the others, fire, air, and water.' 

4 ' The merit consists in being willing to receive this grace/ 

270 The ascent into the Empyrean. 

This nature doth so multiply itself 

In numbers, that there never yet was speech 

Nor mortal fancy that can go so far. 
And if thou notest that which is revealed 

By Daniel, thou wilt see that in his thousands 

Number determinate is kept concealed. 
The primal Light, that all irradiates it, 

By modes as many is received therein, 

As are the splendors wherewith It is mated. 
Hence, inasmuch as on the act conceptive 

The affection followeth, of love the sweetness 

Therein diversely fervid is or tepid. 1 
The height behold now and the amplitude 

Of the eternal Power, since It hath made 

Itself so many mirrors, where 't is broken, 
One in Itself remaining as before.' 

xxix. 49-66, 130-145. 

But now, even as star after star pales in the effacing 
sunlight, so Choir after Choir was extinguished from Dante's 
view ; and a crowning gaze on Beatrice's consummated 
beauty revealed the accomplished ascent into the Empyrean. 

From the first day that I beheld her face 
In this life, to the moment of this look, 
The sequence of my song has ne'er been severed; 

But now perforce this sequence must desist 
From following her beauty with my verse, 
As every artist at his uttermost. 

Such as I leave her to a greater fame 

1 The Light of God, Which irradiates all this angelic nature, is re- 
ceived therein in modes corresponding in number to the Angels them- 
selves, the splendors or reflected lights wherewith it is united. Hence, 
inasmuch as the affection corresponds to the capacity of receiving the 
Divine Light, the sweetness of love in this angelic nature is different 
in degrees of warmth. 

The two hosts of Paradise. 271 

Than any of my trumpet, which is bringing 
Its arduous matter to a final close, 

With voice and gesture of a perfect leader 

She recommenced : ' We from the greatest body 
Have issued to the Heaven that is pure light ; 

Light intellectual replete with love, 
Love of true good replete with ecstasy, 
Ecstasy that transcendeth every sweetness. 

Here shalt thou see the one host and the other 
Of Paradise, and one in the same aspects 
Which at the final judgment thou shalt see.' 

xxx. 28-45. 

The two hosts are of course the Angels and the Saints : 
but commentators are not unanimous in deciding which is 
referred to as wearing the same aspects that will be seen at 
the Last Judgment. Some think the Angels are meant : 
this view is not only based on indisputable fact, but is also 
favored by the order of the words, and by their seeming 
exclusion of ' the other ' host from that which they predicate. 
Others think the Saints are meant; these can allege that 
seeming need not be real exclusion, that it would have been 
utterly useless to state what it never could enter into 
Dante's head to doubt, and that S. Benedict 1 had actually 
promised that in the Empyrean the Blessed should be seen 
in their proper forms. 

The pilgrim, already by anticipation standing in the 
Better Country of his desire, thus continues his narration : 

Even as a sudden lightning that disperses 
The visual spirits, so that it deprives 
The eye of impress from the strongest objects, 

1 Par. xxii. 58-63 ; page 249. 

272 The River, the Flowers, and the Sparks. 

Thus round about me flashed a living Light, 
And left me swathed around with such a veil 
Of its effulgence, that I nothing saw. 

* Ever the Love Which quieteth this Heaven 
Welcomes into Itself with such salute, 
To make the candle ready for its flame.' 

No sooner had within me these brief words 
An entrance found, than I perceived myself 
To be uplifted over my own power, 

And I with vision new rekindled me, 
Such that no light whatever is so pure 
But that mine eyes were fortified against it. 

xxx. 46-60. 

This ' vision new ' is as it were the nucleus of that by 
which it is to be succeeded, and for which it serves to pre- 
pare the way. The Divine Light is first seen in the form of 
a River, signifying Its effusion on the creatures : 1 the living 
Sparks issuing from It are the Angels; the Flowers they 
ingem, the Saints. Then in the changing of the River's 
length to the Lake's roundness is figured the return of-all 
creatures into God as their Centre and End. 1 The Rose 
and the Bees we know already. 

And Light I saw in fashion of a river 

Fulvid with Its effulgence, 'twixt two banks 

Depicted with an admirable Spring. 
Out of this river issued living sparks, 

And on all sides sank down into the flowers, 

Like unto rubies that are set in gold ; 
And then, as if inebriate with the odors, 

They plunged again into the wondrous torrent, 

1 Venturi in he. 

The Vision assumes its ultimate form. 273 

And as one entered issued forth another. 

' The high desire, that now inflames and moves thee 
To have intelligence of what thou seest, 
Pleaseth me all the more, the more it swells. 

But of this water it behooves thee drink 
Before so great a thirst in thee be slaked.' 
Thus said to me the sunshine of mine eyes ; 

And added : ' The river and the topazes 

Going in and out, and the laughing of the herbage, 
Are of their truth foreshadowing prefaces; 

Not that these things are difficult in themselves, 
But the deficiency is on thy side, 
For yet thou hast not vision so exalted.' 

There is no babe that leaps so suddenly 
With face towards the milk, if he awake 
Much later than his usual custom is, 

As I did, that I might make better mirrors 
Still of mine eyes, down stooping to the wave 
Which flows that we therein be better made. 

And even as the penthouse of mine eyelids 
Drank of it, it forthwith appeared to me 
Out of its length to be transformed to round. 

Then as a folk who have been under masks 
Seem other than before, if they divest 
The semblance not their own they disappeared in, 

Thus into greater pomp were changed for me 
The flowerets and the sparks, so that I saw 
Both of the Courts of Heaven made manifest. 

O splendor of God ! by means of which I saw 
The lofty triumph of the realm veracious, 
Give me the power to say how it I saw ! 

There is a Light above, which visible 
Makes the Creator unto every creature, 
Who only in beholding Him has peace, 

274 The Lake and the Rose. 

And it expands itself in circular form 
To such extent, that its circumference 
Would be too large a girdle for the sun. 

The semblance of it is all made of rays 
Reflected from the top of Primal Motion, 1 
Which takes therefrom vitality and power. 

And as a hill in water at its base 
Mirrors itself, as if to see its beauty 
When affluent most in verdure and in flowers, 

So, ranged aloft all round about the Light 

Mirrored I saw in more ranks than a thousand 
All who above there have from us returned. 

And if the lowest row collect within it 
So great a light, how vast the amplitude 
Is of this Rose in its extremest leaves ! 

My vision in the vastness and the height 
Lost not itself, but comprehended all 
The quantity and quality of that gladness. 

There near and far nor add nor take away ; 
For there where God immediately doth govern, 
The natural law in naught is relevant. 

Into the yellow of the Rose Eternal 
That spreads, and multiplies, and breathes an odor 
Of praise unto the ever- vernal Sun, 

As one who silent is and fain would speak, 
Me Beatrice drew on, and said : ' Behold 
Of the white stoles how vast the convent is ! 

Behold how vast the circuit of our city ! 
Behold our seats so filled to overflowing, 
That here henceforward are few people wanting! ' 

xxx. 61-132. 

1 See page 12. 

The Angelic Bees. 275 

Then Beatrice indicated the throne specially prepared 
for the Emperor Henry of Luxemburg, and destined to be 
occupied all too soon for Dante's patriotic hopes: re- 
proved the blindness of Italy to her true good, and heavily 
denounced Pope Clement V. as Henry's covert opponent. 

In fashion then as of a snow-white rose 
Displayed itself to me the saintly host, 
Whom Christ in His own blood had made His bride. 

But the other host, that flying sees and sings 
The glory of Him Who doth enamour it, 
And the goodness that created it so noble, 

Even as a swarm of bees, that sinks in flowers 
One moment, and the next returns again 
To where its labor is to sweetness turned, 

Sank into the great flower, that is adorned 
With leaves so many, and thence reascended 
To where its love abideth evermore. 

Their faces had they all of living flame, 
And wings of gold, and all the rest so white 
No snow unto that limit doth attain. 

From bench to bench, into the flower descending, 
They carried something of the peace and ardor 
Which by the fanning of their flanks they won. 

Nor did the interposing 'twixt the flower 
And that was o'er it of such plenitude 
Of flying shapes impede the sight and splendor; 

Because the Light Divine so penetrates 
The universe, according to its merit, 
That naught can be an obstacle against it. 

This realm secure and full of gladsomeness, 
Crowded with ancient people and with modern, 
Unto one mark had all its look and love. 

276 From Earth to Heaven. 

Trinal Light, That in a single star 
Sparkling upon their sight so satisfies them, 
Look down upon our tempest here below ! 

If the barbarians, coming from some region 
That every day by Helice is covered, 1 
Revolving with her son whom she delights in, 2 

Beholding Rome and all her noble works, 
Were wonder-struck, what time the Lateran 
Above all mortal things was eminent, 

1 who to the divine had from the human, 
From time unto eternity, had come, 
From Florence to a people just and sane, 

With what amazement must I have been filled ! 
Truly between this and the joy, it was 
My pleasure not to hear, and to be mute. 

And as a pilgrim who delighteth him 
In gazing round the temple of his vow, 
And hopes some day to retell how it was, 

So through the living Light my way pursuing 
Directed I mine eyes o'er all the ranks, 
Now up, now down, and now all round about. 

Faces I saw of charity persuasive. 

Embellished by His light and their own smile, 
And attitudes adorned with every grace. 

The general form of Paradise already 
My glance had comprehended as a whole, 
In no part hitherto remaining fixed, 

And round I turned me with rekindled wish 
My Lady to interrogate of things 
Concerning which my mind was in suspense. 

One thing I meant, another answered me ; 

1 The Great Bear. 2 The Little Bear. 

Beatrice has resumed her throne, 277 

I thought I should see Beatrice, and saw 

An Old Man habited like the glorious people. 
O'erflowing was he in his eyes and cheeks 

With joy benign, in attitude of pity 

As to a tender father is becoming. 
And ' She, where is she ? ' instantly I said ; 

Whence he : 'To put an end to thy desire, 

Me Beatrice hath sent from mine own place. 
And if thou lookest up to the third round 

Of the first rank, again shalt thou behold her 

Upon the throne her merits have assigned her.' 
Without reply I lifted up mine eyes, 

And saw her, as she made herself a crown 

Reflecting from herself the eternal rays. 
Not from that region which the highest thunders 

Is any mortal eye so far removed, 

In whatsoever sea it deepest sinks, 
As there from Beatrice my sight ; but this 

Was nothing unto me ; because her image 

Descended not to me by medium blurred. 1 
* O Lady, thou in whom my hope is strong, 

And who for my salvation didst endure 

In Hell to leave the imprint of thy feet, 
Of whatsoever things I have beheld, 

As coming from thy power and from thy goodness 

I recognize the virtue and the grace. 
Thou from a slave hast brought me unto freedom, 

By all those ways, by all the expedients, 

Whereby thou hadst the power of doing it. 
Preserve towards me thy magnificence, 

So that this soul of mine, which thou hast healed, 

Pleasing to thee be loosened from the body.' 

1 Through no such medium as our earthly atmosphere, or any other. 

278 S. Bernard of Clairvaux. 

Thus I implored ; and she, so far away, 

Smiled, as it seemed, and looked once more at me ; 
Then unto the Eternal Fountain turned. 

And said the Old Man holy : ' That thou mayst 
Accomplish perfectly thy journeying, 
Whereunto prayer and holy love have sent me, 

Fly with thine eyes all round about this garden ; 
For seeing it will discipline thy sight 
Farther to mount along the Ray Divine. 

And she, the Queen of Heaven, for whom I burn 
Wholly with love, will grant us every grace, 
Because that I her faithful Bernard am.' 

XXXI. I-I02. 

It need hardly be said that this is the great S. Bernard, 
Abbot of Clairvaux, the singer of the Most Holy Name of 
Jesus in that sweetest hymn which has kindled and ex- 
pressed the love of generation after generation from his 
own day to ours. 

As he who peradventure from Croatia 
Cometh to gaze at our Veronica, 1 
Who through its ancient fame is never sated, 

But says in thought, the while it is displayed, 
* My Lord, Christ Jesus, God of very God, 
Now was Your semblance made like unto this ? ' 

Even such was I while gazing at the living 
Charity of the man, who in this world 
By contemplation tasted of that peace. 

' Thou son of Grace, this jocund life,' began he, 

1 The ' Very Image ' of our Blessed Lord, impressed by Him on the 
handkerchief piously offered Him as He bore His Cross by a holy 
woman, to whom the same name of Veronica is given, her own being 

The Mother of God. 279 

* Will not be known to thee by keeping ever 
Thine eyes below here on the lowest place ; 

But mark the circles to the most remote, 

Until thou shalt behold enthroned the Queen 
To whom this realm is subject and devoted.' 

I lifted up mine eyes, and as at morn 
The oriental part of the horizon 
Surpasses that wherein the sun goes down, 

Thus, as if going with mine eyes from vale 
To mount, I saw a part in the remoteness 
Surpass in splendor all the other front. 

And even as there, where we await the pole l 
That Phaeton drove badly, blazes more 
The light, and is on either side diminished, 

So likewise that pacific Oriflamme 2 

Gleamed brightest in the centre, and each side 
In equal measure did the flame abate. 

And at that centre, with their wings expanded, 
More than a thousand jubilant Angels saw I, 
Each differing in effulgence and in kind. 

I saw there at their sports and at their songs 
A beauty smiling, which the gladness was 
Within the eyes of all the other saints ; 

And if I had in speaking as much wealth 
As in imagining, I should not dare 
To attempt the smallest part of its delight. 

Bernard, as soon as he beheld mine eyes 
Fixed and intent upon its fervid fervor, 
His own with such affection turned to her 

That it made mine more ardent to behold. 

Absorbed in his delight, that contemplator 
Assumed the willing office of a teacher, 

1 The chariot of the Sun. 2 The Blessed Virgin. 

280 The vertical division of the Rose : 

And gave beginning to these holy words : 

' The wound that Mary closed up and anointed, 
She at her feet who is so beautiful, 
She is the one who opened it and pierced it. 

Within that order which the third seats make 
Is seated Rachel, lower than the other, 
With Beatrice, in manner as thou seest. 

Sarah, Rebecca, Judith, and her who was 
Ancestress of the Singer, who for dole 
Of the misdeed said, " Miserere mei" 

Canst thou behold from seat to seat descending 
Down in gradation, as with each one's name 
I through the Rose go down from leaf to leaf. 

And downward from the seventh row, even as 
Above the same, succeed the Hebrew women, 
Dividing all the tresses of the flower ; 

Because, according to the view which Faith 
In Christ had taken, these are the partition 
By which the sacred stairways are divided 

Upon this side, where perfect is the flower 
With each one of its petals, seated are 
Those who believed in Christ Who was to come. 

Upon the other side, where intersected 
With vacant spaces are the semicircles, 
Are those who looked to Christ already come. 

And as, upon this side, the glorious seat 
Of the Lady of Heaven, and the other seats 
Below it, such a great division make, 

So opposite doth that of the great John, 
Who, ever holy, desert and martyrdom 
Endured, and afterwards two years in Hell. 

And under him thus to divide were chosen 
Francis, and Benedict, and Augustine, 
And down to us the rest from round to round. 

the horizontal division. Of Elect Babes. 281 

Behold now the high providence divine ; 

For one and other aspect of the Faith 

In equal measure shall this garden fill. 
And know that downward from that rank which cleaves 

Midway the sequence of the two divisions, 

Not by their proper merit are they seated; 
But by Another's under fixed conditions ; 

For these are Spirits one and all assoiled 

Before they any true election had. 
Well canst thou recognize it in their faces, 

And also in their voices puerile, 

If thou regard them well and hearken to them.' 

xxxi. 103-142. xxxii. 1-48. 

S. Bernard then, in answer to a doubt he beheld in 
Dante's mind, set forth the theory of the varying degrees of 
grace and consequently of glory in Elect Babes : and 
further explained that infant salvation has ever depended 
on the conjunction of something else with innocence ; in 
the earliest ages the faith of parents, in the next period 
Circumcision, since the advent of grace Baptism. He went 

' Look now into the face that unto Christ 

Hath most resemblance ; for its brightness only 

Is able to prepare thee to see Christ.' 
On her did I behold so great a gladness 

Rain down, borne onward in the holy minds 

Created through that altitude to fly, 
That whatsoever I had seen before 

Did not suspend me in such admiration, 

Nor show me such similitude of God. 
And the same Love that first descended there, 

' Ave Maria, gratia plena? singing, 

282 The Angel Gabriel : the Saints of the 

In front of her his wings expanded wide. 

Unto the canticle divine responded 
From every part the court beatified, 
So that each sight became serener for it. 

' O holy father, who for me endurest 

To be below here, leaving the sweet place 
In which thou sittest by eternal lot, 

Who is the Angel that with so much joy 
Into the eyes is looking of our Queen, 
Enamoured so that he seems made of fire ? ' 

Thus I again recourse had to the teaching 
Of that one who delighted him in Mary 
As doth the star of morning in the sun. 

And he to me : ' Such gallantry and grace 
As there can be in Angel and in soul, 
All is in him ; and thus we fain would have it ; 

Because he is the one who bore the palm 
Down unto Mary, when the Son of God 
To take our burden on Himself decreed. 

But now come onward with thine eyes, as I 

Speaking shall go, and note the great patricians 
Of this most just and merciful of empires. 

Those two that sit above there most enraptured, 
As being very near unto Augusta, 
Are as it were the two roots of this Rose. 

He who upon the left is near her placed 
The father is, by whose audacious taste 
The human species so much bitter tastes. 

Upon the right thou seest that ancient father 
Of Holy Church, into whose keeping Christ 
The keys committed of this lovely flower. 

And he who all the evil days beheld, 

Before his death, of her the beauteous bride 
Who with the spear and with the nails was won, 

first rank. D antes sight purified. 283 

Beside him sits, and by the other rests 
That leader under whom on manna lived 
The people ingrate, fickle, and stiff-necked. 

Opposite Peter seest thou Anna seated, 
So well content to look upon her daughter, 
Her eyes she moves not while she sings Hosanna. 

And opposite the eldest household father 
Lucia sits, she who thy Lady moved 
When to rush downward thou didst bend thy brows. 

But since the moments of thy vision fly, 
Here will we make full stop, as a good tailor 
Who makes the gown according to his cloth, 

And unto the First Love will turn our eyes, 
That looking upon Him thou penetrate 
As far as possible through His effulgence.' 

xxxii. 85-144. 

The Saint invited his neophyte to join in invoking the aid 
of the Blessed Virgin, and that aid was granted : 

And I, who to the End of all desires 
Was now approaching, even as I ought 
The ardor of desire within me ended. 

Bernard was beckoning unto me, and smiling, 
That I should upward look ; but I already 
Was of my own accord such as he wished ; 

Because my sight, becoming purified, 

Was entering more and more into the ray 
Of the High Light which of Itself is true. 

From that time forward what I saw was greater 
Than our discourse, that to such vision yields, 
And yields the memory unto such excess. 

Even as he is who seeth in a dream, 

And after dreaming the imprinted passion 
Remains, and to his mind the rest returns not, 

284 D antes prayer : his Vision of the 

Even such am I, for almost utterly 
Ceases my vision, and distilleth yet 
Within my heart the sweetness born of it ; 

Even thus the snow is in the sun unsealed, 
Even thus upon the wind in the light leaves 
Were the soothsayings of the Sibyl lost. 1 

Light Supreme, that dost so far uplift Thee 
From the conceits of mortals, to my mind 
Of what Thou didst appear re-lend a little, 

And make my tongue of so great puissance, 
That but a single sparkle of Thy glory 
It may bequeath unto the future people; 

For by returning to my memory somewhat, 
And by a little sounding in these verses, 
More of Thy victory shall be conceived ! 

1 think the keenness of the living Ray 
Which I endured would have bewildered me, 
If but mine eyes had been averted from It ; 2 

And I remember that I was more bold 
On this account to bear, so that I joined 
My aspect with the Glory Infinite. 

xxxm. 46-81. 

And then, confessing himself all impotent to tell, Dante 
yet tells as best he may of his consummated grace in the 
crowning Vision of God Triune, God Incarnate : 

Not because more than one unmingled semblance 
Was in the living Light on Which I looked, 

1 The Cumaean Sibyl wrote her oracles on leaves. When she opened 
the door of her cavern, these were blown about by the wind ; and she 
never cared to re-arrange them. 

2 Unlike the solar ray, this Divine Ray strengthened the fixed eye 
to gaze on it. 

Blessed Trinity and the Word Incarnate. 285 

For It is always what It was before ; 

But through the sight, that fortified itself 
In me by looking, one appearance only 
To me was ever changing as I changed. 

Within the deep and luminous subsistence 

Of the High Light appeared to me Three Circles, 
Of threefold color and of one dimension, 

And by the Second seemed the First reflected 
As Iris is by Iris, and the Third 
Seemed Fire that equally from Both is breathed. 

O how all speech is feeble and falls short 
Of my conceit, and this to what I saw 
Is such, 'tis not enough to call it little ! 

O Light Eterne, sole in Thyself that dwellest, 
Sole knowest Thyself, and, known unto Thyself 
And knowing, lovest and smilest on Thyself ! 

That Circulation, 1 Which being thus conceived 
Appeared in Thee as a reflected Light, 
When somewhat contemplated by mine eyes, 

Within Itself, of Its own very color 
Seemed to me painted with our effigy, 2 
Wherefore my sight was all absorbed therein. 

As the geometrician, who endeavors 
To square the circle, and discovers not, 
By taking thought, the principle he wants, 

Even such was I at that new apparition ; 
I wished to see how the Image to the Circle 
Conformed Itself, and how It there finds place ; 

But my own wings were not enough for this, 
Had it not been that then my mind there smote 
A flash of lightning, wherein came its wish. 

1 The Second Person of the Adorable Trinity. 

2 The Human Nature of our Blessed Lord. 

286 The Vision ceases : Grace remains. 

Here vigor failed the lofty fantasy : 
But now wa^ turning my desire and will, 
Even as a wheel that equally is moved, 

The Love Which moves the sun and the other stars. 

xxxm. 109-145. 



Inferno. PAGE 

I. 61-93 Virgil appears . 32 

112-136 Virgil proposes the Pilgrimage 34 

113117 is also quoted 4 

II. 43-142 Of the descent of Beatrice to Limbo . . . 35 

III. 1-9 Inscription over Hell Gate 43 

22-30 Wailings in Ante- Hell 64 

95, 96 The Pass-word through Hell 65 

IV. 31-63 Of the Souls now and sometime in Limbo . ib. 
79-105 The School of Poets 66 

V. 11,12 Minos passing sentence 47 

VII. 61-96 Of Fortune 69 

VIII. 31-63 Filippo Argenti 71 

IX. 34-105 Dis held and forced 73 

XX. 25-30 Dante's tears over the Diviners 82 

XXI. 79-96 Eviltail's deceit 83 

106-117 The same 84 

124-126 The same ib. 

XXII. 13-15 The demon escort ib. 

XXVI. 19-24 Dante takes warning against abuse of in- 
tellect 87 

90-142 Ulysses' last voyage 15 

XXVII. 67-132 Guido di Montefeltro 88 

XXVIII. 112-142 Bertrand de Born 90 

XXIX. 1-36 Geri del Bello 91 

288 Index. 

Inferno. PAGE 

XXX. 130-148 Dante reproved by Virgil 94 

XXXII. 70-81 Bocca degli Abati 95 

82-1 1 1 The same 96 

XXXIII. 1-78 Count Ugolino 97. 

100-117 Ptolemaea. Frate Alberigo 100 

148-150 Dante deceives Frate Alberigo 101 

XXXIV. 1-27 Lucifer seen ib. 

28-67 Lucifer described 102 

70-105 Earth's centre passed 104 

119-126 Of Lucifer's Fall 105 

I2 7~ I 39 Tne ascent from Hell 106 


I. 13-136 Cato the Warden 121 

II. 10-51 The Angel's boat 125 

III. 7-9 Virgil's remorse 127 

22-45 Virgil casts no shadow ib. 

118-145 Manfred of Naples 129 

IV. 25-33 The steep ascent 130 

121-129 Belacqua 131 

V. i-2i ' Let people talk ' ib. 

91-129 Buonconte di Montefeltro 132 

VI. 25-48 Of Prayer and its effect 134 

VII. 64-84 The Dell of Princes 135 

121-123 Of Degeneracy 136 

VIII. 1-39 The two Guardian Angels 137 

85-108 The Serpent-Adversary 138 

IX. 43-114 The Gate of S. Peter 139 

115-132 The Gate opened 142 

X. 28-45 Tne Sculptures of Humility ib. 

94-1 1 1 The Penitents for Pride 143 

112-139 The same 144 



Purgatorio. PAGE 

XI. 1-24 Their prayer 145 

25-36 Their suffering 146 

73-108 Oderisi d'Agobbio 147 

XII. 1-72 The Sculptures of Pride 149 

88-90 The liberating Angel 151 

112-126 The first P effaced ib. 

XIII. 124-150 Sapia 153 

XIV. 86,87 Of the root of Envy 154 

127-129 The departure from Terrace II ib. 

143-151 Reproof of Envy ib. 

XV. 44-93 Of the remedy for Envy. Entrance on Ter- 
race III 155 

130-132 ' Learn Meekness ' 156 

139-145 The smoke of Terrace III 157 

XVI. 1-15 Dante traversing the smoke ib. 

16-24 The Penitents for Anger 158 

64-105 Of Free-will and of Government .... ib. 

XVII. 91-139 How Love may be the seed of Sin . . . .160 

XIX. 58-63 The Siren baffled 163 

91-145 Pope Adrian V ib. 

XX. 1-9 The walk along Terrace V 165 

124-151 The earthquake and the hymn ib. 

XXI. 1-24 The released Shade 166 

25-81 Of the religion of the Mountain 167 

94-136 Virgil made known to Statius 169 

XXII. 1-6 The fifth P effaced 170 

130-154 The first Tree of emptiness 172 

XXIII. 1-24 The Penitents for Gluttony ib. 

55-133 Dante converses with Forese 173 

XXV. 109-129 The Penitents for Lasciviousness .... 176 

XXVII. 1-12 That all must pass through the Fire . . .177 

13-18 Dante shrinks from the Fire 178 




Purgatorio. PAGE 

XXVII. 19-63 Dante passes through the Fire . . . . . 178 

88-108 Dante's dream of Leah and Rachel . . .180 

109-142 Dante enfranchised 181 

XXVIII. 1-42 The Wood of Eden 183 

43-81 Matilda 185 

121-148 Of the Rivers of Eden and the Golden 

Age 187 

XXIX. 1-30 The burst of light and melody 188 

XXX. 13-54 Beatrice descends. Virgil has vanished . . 191 

55-145 Beatrice accuses Dante to the Angels . . . 192 

XXXI. 1-90 Beatrice reproaches Dante 195 

XXXIII. 103-145 Lethe and Eunoe 199 


* 43-*>3 The aze at the Sun 208 

64-105 The music of the Spheres ib. 

121-142 How Man, like Fire, tends upward . . .210 

II. 19-48 The Moon 211 

III. 7-51 The Blessed in the Moon. Piccarda de' 

Donati 212 

52-108 How each is content with his own place in 

Heaven. Piccarda's history 214 

109-120 Of the Empress Constance 216 

121-130 Piccarda vanishes ib. 

IV. 28-48 Of the true abode of the Blessed . . . .217 
67-138 Of Violence. Of Will absolute and relative. 

Of Truth and Doubt 218 

v - I 9~33 Of Free-will and Vows 220 

55-63 Of Substitution in Vows 221 

VI. 82-93 O f the Roman Eagle under Tiberius and 

Titus 222 

112-142 Of the Blessed in Mercury. Of Romeo . .223 



Paradiso. PAGE 

VII. 19-120 Of the Incarnation and the Cross, the Fall 

and Redemption 225 

VIII. 40-57 Charles Martel, one of the Blessed in Venus 228 

X. 34-75 The Blessed in the Sun 230 

109-114 Of Solomon 232 

121-129 Of Boethius ib. 

XIII. 130-142 ' Judge nothing before the time ' 233 

XIV. lo-iii Of the Saints after the Resurrection. The 

Blessed in Mars . . ib. 

XV. 85-148 Cacciaguida reasons of Florence and of him- 
self 237 

XVII. 46-69 Cacciaguida predicts Dante's exile .... 239 

55-63 is also quoted 30 

94-142 Cacciaguida urges Dante to boldness of 

speech 240 

XVIII. 52-69 The ascent to Jupiter 242 

XIX. 22-114 Of Divine Justice towards the Heathen . . 243 

89, 90 is also quoted 247 

XXI. 79-102 S. Peter Damian treats of Election . . . .248. 

XXII. 52-72 S. Benedict reasons of the Empyrean . . . 249 

97-111 The ascent into the Starry Heaven . . . . 250 

112-154 Looking down upon the Earth ib. 

151153 is also quoted 30 

XXIII. 1-75 The Triumph of Christ 252 

XXIV. 34-154 The Confession of Faith to S. Peter . . .254 
XXV. 1-12 The Poet's laurel crown 258 

28-48 S. James questions Dante of Hope . . . .259 
49-99 The Confession of Hope to S. James . . . 260 
XXVI. 16-69 The Confession of Love to S. John .... 262 
82-142 Adam sets forth four points concerning him- 
self 264 

XXVII. 109-114 Of the Primum Mobile 266 


Paradiso. PAGE 

XXVIII. 16-45 The Nine Angelic Circles 266 

88-96 The Angelic coruscation 268 

XXIX. 13-21 Of where, when, how the Angels were created ib. 

49-66 Of the rebel and the obedient Angels . . . 269 

130-145 Of the number and bliss of the obedient 

Angels . . 270 

XXX. 28-45 of the Empyrean ib. 

46-60 The salute of Love 271 

61-132 The progressive vision of Beatitude . . . 272 

XXXI. 1-102 The Rose and the Bees. S. Bernard . . . 275 
103-142 The Blessed Virgin on her throne .... 278 

XXXII. 1-48 Of the divisions of the Rose 279 

85-144 Of the Angel Gabriel and the Patrician Saints 281 

XXXIII. 46-81 Dante prepared for the crowning Vision . . 283 

109-145 The Vision of the Blessed Trinity and the 

Word Incarnate 284 




Vita Nuova. PAGE 

II. Dante's first sight of Beatrice 18 

III. Beatrice salutes Dante 20 

XXII. Death of Folco Portinari 21 

XXIX. Death of Beatrice #. 

XL. ' Adversary of Reason ' ib. 

* Strong imagination ' of Beatrice .... 22 
XLIII. Purpose to write of Beatrice 25 


Trattatol. n A property of Envy 115 

II. 9 The worst of Bestialisms 48 

13 Dante consoled by Philosophy 22 

14 The Planet Mercury 203 

1 6 Praise of Philosophy 22 

Canzone II. 4 Philosophy's Fire-rain 55 

Trattato III. 12 Philosophy defined ib. 

15 The Eyes and Smile of Wisdom 207 

Philosophy's Fire-rain interpreted . . . . 55 

IV. 17 Virtue lies in the mean 52 

28 ' Most noble Latin ' 87 

294 Index. 

De MonarchiA. PAGE 
III. 15 The two Beatitudes 38 


To his Florentine Friend. Dante rejects the Amnesty . 29 
To Can Grande della Scala. The subject of the Corn- 
media .112 

University Press : John Wilson & Son, Cambridge. 

TO* 202 Main Library 


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